Industry Events and your career
We all see the invites and weigh up whether it's worth getting suited and booted for that 7.30am breakfast or if we can get away for the 3.30pm presentation followed by drinks and canapés. We probably register but when the morning arrives roll over sighing that we really have been working too hard or got to bed too late the night earlier anyway!
However, industry events really are an extremely useful and mostly enjoyable way of keeping abreast of the latest trends, issues and technologies relevant to your area. Industry Events are also an important opportunity to make new networking contacts, it may be an introduction to a potential employer or it might be meeting a peer you can share war stories and a few useful insights.
What events should you attend?
There are really two kinds of events, one being a paid event where you should be aiming to get an unbiased view of the world and then free events which will usually be put on by a vendor eager to spread their view on the world and build up a prospect list.
If you are time poor and interested to get a good understanding of all the relevant issues in a particular area then a well run paid event will be a good investment. Paid events are also part of your professional training and can be added as part of your resume.
Free events put on by a vendor can also be excellent career value, especially if the presentations are good. Good presentations will hopefully include the Product Manager besides the sales pitch and the best will also have some independent comment from analysts such as Gartner which will provide you the opportunity to understand the real issues.
How to make the most of an event?
For the timid the networking part of an industry event may be a dread. A little lubrication goes a long way to loosening the tongue but remember to keep to only a little lubrication. The simplest form of introduction is to ask for an opinion of the presentation. Remember to introduce yourself clearly including your company and provide a business card. Finally mix around, meet as many people as possible and always follow up on anything you agree to do.