What a silly title for the post. What if everyone wrote about what they are NOT doing?

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Well, I write this blog post partially to convince myself that decision on not attending NDC2014 is right and partially to share my thoughts on such aspects of attending conferences as price and return of investment.

I always wanted to visit some big developer’s conference. One of the conferences that I definitely like is NDC (either in Oslo or London). I think it has best mix of technologies that match my interests and at the same time has big names in it.

I wanted to go there for 4 times. First time I just asked my company in Ukraine, but it would be too expensive for them and I don’t know if they ever sent people to such conferences. Second time I asked company here in Austria, but I was new employee to send me somewhere – I didn’t have a chance to prove that I worth it. Third time I just couldn’t do that because my daughter was about to be born. And this summer I’m not going to allow myself to attend it on my own.

Reason is simple – price. I’ve calculated that it would cost me around 2600 Euro (~3600$) to attend it. This includes tickets for the conference and flights, hotel, food and 3 working days. Organizers wouldn’t give me a discount.

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Being self-employed makes you really consider such things as conferences from manager’s or company’s perspective. You start to think about return of investment and how to justify conference attendance. Real question is if money spent on conference will benefit you correspondingly.

NDC videos are available online shortly after conference. It is not a secret that what people get from conferences is not content of presentations but possibility to establish relations with gurus who are at the top in the industry. I heard this so many times. One of my old friends said that conference really starts when presentations are over and people get together at lunch or dinner or at party.

Taking this into account it is very hard for me to believe that I could establish good connections at any conference. I’m usually shy, especially when it comes to social events and new connections. I don’t think that I’m only one who has this problem. Probably most of developers to some extend have similar issues. I found some articles on how you can attend conferences as yourself. But point that I’m trying to make is that usually it is company that pays for their employees therefor developers are not that much concerned about the price and of course they are happy to attend. I would also be happy if someone paid for me. Some say that conferences are often just a reward for best developers for being loyal to their companies.

I concluded for myself that from learning perspective I would not gain much from this conference and from networking perspective it doesn’t worth so much money. Of course there is tiny chance that I’m overlooking some big opportunity.

I believe that if I spend just half of those money on small conferences and tools/learning I will get more in return.

This beginner’s guide to attending conferences is quite useful. I think I will use some of the provided hints when I’ll be attending smaller conferences.

One last thing, probably ultimate goal for any attendee of any conference is to grow to the level when you are invited as one of key speakers.

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