Another service management conference is underway (Fusion16) and unfortunately some of us are not able to attend for one reason or another. Fortunately there are several conferences which exist to meet your needs which means you may be able to attend another one down the road.
In general, whether you are not able to attend a conference as a result of time availability, corporate financial constraints, or geography (personally I am always dying to speak in Europe) how can you get value today without attending while still building a case for attending the next conference.
Firstly look at the agenda for the conference which you can’t make. Take note of the presenters or vendors that want to see and think what specifically would be the benefit for attending their presentation. It may be possible that the material is being presented in another venue which might address the constraints for your inability to attend this conference.
In addition the presenter may already have the content already uploaded on Brighttalk, SlideShare or on their own site. While you may not get the same context as seeing this line you may be able to view the content and then connect with the presenter in a form of social media to ask any questions you might have.
Unfortunately one of the things that many conferences have which may be more difficult to reproduce is a workshop. However it is possible that there are others in your community which are also unable to attend this conference and there may be interest in the same workshop material. Check your local training organizations or consultants; they may have similar workshops available. Alternatively if you’re not already a member you should consider joining an organization like itSMF, Business Relationship Management Institute or ISACA to name a few and connect with people in your area and organize regional activities.
The other component of a conference which may be hard to reproduce is the networking. While it is not the same as face to face, connecting with social media will allow you to broaden your horizons and get valuable insights into global service management challenges rather than local ones. It will also give you the ability to connect with pundits who have had vast amounts of experience in culturally diverse situations.
Not all conferences are put together the same. So really look at what content they are presenting and how you and your organization will benefit from you (and possible your team) from attending. In my experience trying to get management to sign off on you going to Las Vegas for example can be a battle in itself. So you really need to market this to them in a way which leaves them saying “who else should we send?”
Link up the reasons for attending to address challenges for your business. You could phrase it like “one of our top challenges at “Our Co” is that we don’t have a good sense of understanding our business, there are two presentations and a half day workshop which might help us to improve this.” This type of preparation will get you farther than just blindly asking to attend. Also the materials you see in the conference are generally attainable and you could share them with your team upon your return. Marketing is important.
In summary, despite the fact if you can attend a conference or not, there are vast quantities of information out there for you to leverage. Poke around, ask questions and get involved.