Miles Burke has a really great article on the SitePoint web site about attending conferences and the reasons to do so.
Miles points out two great reasons to attend a conference:
Let’s start with education. You’ll learn more from attending one conference than all the books and blog posts you can read in one month. This may sound like a tall order, but seriously, if you are actively listening to the presenter, it’s hard not to learn more than by simply being there.
Then there’s the networking. Some may derisively call it schmoozing, however, this is a very important benefit of conferences that should not be underestimated. The contacts that you can make by grabbing a meal or a coffee during a break can be worth the cost of the conference alone. I’ve won at least $50,000 worth of business just by attending the last two Web Directions South conferences–and that’s without even really trying!
I agree wholeheartedly with these reasons. I attended only a couple conferences this year, both somewhat regional and single-track, which were fantastic. My attendance at both of these conferences has opened up a whole world of opportunities from making new friends to getting work from the folks I met and spent some time talking to.
I am a big fan of the smaller conferences which have 150-200 attendees and are single track. It is often hard to decide between sessions in a multi-session format and somehow you lose.
The two conferences I have left for the year will bring the total for me to 4, which is more than I normally attend. Since becoming an independent developer I find it more important now to attend conferences and network whenever possible.
Upcoming Conferences I am attending: