Labor Day weekend is upon us in the US and with it, the (unofficial) end of summer.  

As we look to the fall, we can be sure that product announcements and conferences await us. Like every fall conference season before, product vendors and conference organizers are promising to change the world and make our lives easier.

But will they?

That is entirely up to you. 

Vendors aim product announcements at the 10 percent of people already using the product to its fullest capacity, so chances are high the announcements won't change your life. In fact, the announcements usually carry more importance for product managers at competing firms than most practitioners. 

But at industry conferences you can discover things that will make a real impact.

Conference Benefit #1: Learning

The obvious reason to attend a conference is to learn. Everyone trying to justify a conference expense to their manager starts with the learning angle.

People just starting in an may look at the sessions and find new things, but industry veterans have to look outside of the sessions for inspiration. If you’ve been around for a while, the smart thing to do is to look at the speakers.

Speakers make a conference. 

Conferences book industry veterans to benefit from their experience. These veterans speak at the conference to share that experience. But don't look to their talk for the most value — often the real insights enter in after they finish. 

After the talk, go up and listen to the questions people ask. Let the answers sink in. Follow up with your own questions.

Access to this experience is what makes a conference better than any online webinar.

Conference Benefit #2: Networking in the Hallway

Networking is another clear benefit of attending conferences. The “hallway sessions” are typically the most informative. 

Beyond the discussions with industry veterans, meeting people who face the same challenges as you, or who have already done so, is a sure way to gain ideas. You can trade stories, learn tips and even get advice on when to call it quits on a project.

Networking will supply you with new ideas and insights, but it also helps you build your personal network. Let’s face it: when you need help it pays to have people ready and willing to respond to your queries. Whether it's preparing for a future job, finding a new person for your team, or identifying the perfect consultant to make your project a success, having a solid network of people already in place makes those situations easy.

Of course fun enters into it too. Simply knowing a couple of people to join you for a relaxing dinner makes a conference that much more worthwhile.

Conference Benefit #3: Discover New Motivation

Here is where I gain the most from any good conference. Listening to other people share their ideas and feeling their enthusiasm gives me the energy to tackle new challenges. 

Our daily work can sometimes drag even the best of us down. A good conference pulls us up and reminds us that we can make a difference with our work.

It doesn’t matter your industry — these benefits are there for you if you pick the right conference. 

Start with the right speakers — if the leading people in your industry are on the bill, you know you're onto something good. Go there, learn and build your network. With a large assembly of smart people who have failed (but learned) and succeeded, you’ll walk away with new things to try and the confidence to get started.

What are you waiting for? Go out and learn from the best.

Editor's Note: We may be biased, but we think CMSWire's DX Summit being held Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago meets all of Laurence's criteria. Read more about the speakers and sessions here.