This is a topic I’ve been thinking about, and have blogged about internally at work. Chris Pirillo forwarded me a question he had received wherein someone was asking about the reasons for a company to pay for them to attend a conference like Gnomedex. Here’s part of what I replied with:
If I were trying to get a company to send me to a conference like Gnomedex, I’d focus on the following things. First, Gnomedex is a collection of incredibly smart people. These are the people that understand and are shaping the future of the way we are going to do business. It happened with the web, it happened with blogs, it’s happeneing with podcasting and video blogging, and whatever the future holds, it’s these people that are going to catch on first. Second, the opportunity to network. You want to get to know people, and get people to know you, so that when your company needs help with getting a blog started, or something similar, you’ll have a bunch of people that remember hanging out and having fun with you at Gnomedex, and who will be more than happy to help. Lastly, the community should see your company’s willingness to participate in something like Gnomedex as a sign that they’re starting to “get it”, or at least that they want to start to learn. Lastly, preach the Cluetrain. Buy the cheap $5 copies on Amazon and give them to your manager, and others that you want to help understand what this is all about. Even though the full text is available at www.cluetrain.com, most manager-types are more likely to read the dead tree version, and getting them to read it is definitely worth buying and sharing a few cheap copies.
So those are my thoughts on the topic. Is your company paying for you to go to Gnomedex? If so, how did you pitch the idea? Did your company decline? If so, why? Do you have any other ideas on how to help your company understand the benefit of attending “geek” conferences like Gnomedex? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
(Disclosure: for various reasons, my employer is not paying for my trip to Gnomedex – it’s coming out of my own pocket, and I chose to go representing myself as a blogger and a geek)