2010 Conferences: What or How to Choose?

Last year, I attend a few conferences:

Each presented itself with information and opportunities. TechShow was my first introduction to technology and the law outside of an academic setting, and was eye-opening on many levels. It also made my Twitter reputation, essentially “unmasking” the person behind the handle. I met some awesome people, with whom I have stayed in touch. I’ve come to think of a couple as mentors, and all of them have been helpful in some fashion. The #techshow experiment with #gal09 kind of fizzeled, but that’s OK. Both are still using Twitter to promote their respective conferences. TechShow is still #techshow while GAL is #gal10.

Get-A-Life (GAL) yielded my first two business clients. CMSExpo introduced me to a swath of open source applications and WordCampChicago provided a better understanding of WordPress. I must admit, though, that CMSExpo, a CLE I assisted (spoke about virtual worlds like Second Life) and WordCampChicago all ran up against one another, causing Conference Fatigue.

This year, I’d like to avoid Conference Fatigue yet still get some professional development, and perhaps some business. I’ve found though, that attending a conference based solely on curiosity (TechsShow and GAL) yields better returns than attending with a specific purpose. I find myself utterly curious about SXSW. I keep finding or stumbling onto other conferences as well, but not all hold my curiosity or interest.

This year also presents a financial hurdle since some are out of town. Attending conferences, especially out of town, is expensive. You’ll notice that my list from last year is of conferences held in Chicago, thus negating travel costs like airfare.

However, limiting myself to just the geography of Chicago my impose other limits as well.

I confess to not having much experience with conferences out-of-state. Until last year, I had only attend the Search Engine Strategies Chicago since, well, online marketing was in my job description.

So, from an independent/self-employed/entrepreneur perspective, how do you choose which conferences to attend? Location? Reputation? Past experience of the conference? Cost?

Curious, and very interested to know if you have a method…

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