After a smooth and easy drive from NYC back home (took us only 4.5 hours to cover close to 300 miles, regardless of making a stop for ice-cream and coffee), and three saturated days at Affiliate Summit East 2009, I found myself reflecting on the benefits of gatherings like this.
The least one can expect — if you keep yourself busy — is loosing a couple pounds of unwanted weight, and gaining a couple hundreds of valuable connections. For me personally, the main benefit of conferences like this can be summarized in one word: personal interaction. In the era of email, Twitter, IM chats, blogs and forums, and in the industry as e-centered as affiliate marketing, attending such events (or at least, some kind of gatherings where one could personally communicate with fellow marketers) is a must. It is often hard to read the exact emotions behind a typed-up text, but when you look the person in the eye, watch their body language, and hear their voice, many pieces of the puzzle find their proper places.
We talk about the importance of relationship-building, but how do you build a solid relationship without seeing each other at least once a year? In my case this particular Affiliate Summit has helped to:
- Start new relationships, and hug the old friends once again
- Meet the people I knew online, putting the name to the face
- Get inspired and encouraged
Yes, we all need inspiration and encouragement. The numbers at my How to Motivate Affiliates round table [picture above], and the words spoken before and after the session were extremely encouraging to me. The speakers (both the keynote ones, and those in various sessions throughout the Summit) were often greatly inspiring as well… And again, it is due to the presence of that personal interaction element.
While the component of education is also always present, I do not believe that it is possible to learn something dramatically deep during a few sessions that address different and often disjointed problems. It is possible to get some valuable food for thought and further research, as well as the inspiration, but it is the latter that has been greater for me personally.
What about yourself? What do you believe to be the main benefits of conferences?