Conferences aren’t often about doing. The doing happens during skipped sessions and after the day ends at the hotel bar. After the conference is over you have a stack of business cards. Some of them will end up in the garbage and some of them will lead to work that is meaningful. Doing takes initiative and it’s not typically built in.
Inevitably at any conference, there are a number of people in attendance (probably half) that will have a great time, collect some cards, go home, and do almost nothing different with their lives or businesses. This isn’t the conference’s fault. The conference is just a container, a structure in which possibility exists. The fault is with the attendee’s non-engagement.
At GCUC, in Los Angeles last week, I witnessed dozens of individuals attend sessions, sit on their laptops, and go back to the hotel when the day was “over.” This is the wrong way to conference. The most important parts of any conference are the moments in between sessions and the long nights of chitchat and the dreaming up of new projects. Conferences are about connection, not just the information you’re being presented.
Undoubtedly, some people could have gotten more out of the experience. Undoubtedly it’s their unwillingness to take the initiative to connect that prevented them from getting more.