Going to expensive conferences is awesome. Between learning about what's next, mingling with the brightest in your industry and making deals, everyone sees the value in attending. But who wants to be on the road all summer? That's crazy talk. What can you do in the meantime to foster those same connections? Hit some local events and meet new people within your community.
Worried your city is about as far from SXSW cool as can be? Thanks to the Internet people are working on cool stuff all over. So no matter where you live there should be a great tech community to be a part of.
Why? Every time you interact with people in your industry you are creating an opportunity for yourself. A potential new hire, client or partner. That's some good value. When people have a real relationship with you you'll be top-of-mind when they are looking for someone to fill a need they've got. If you aren't putting yourself in front of these people, then how can this happen?
At Cambrian House, we refer to this as "planned serendipity." The idea being that while you can't count on something amazing happening every time you venture out, if you don't attend things, it is a guarantee nothing will happen. You're also helping build a local community. You might meet someone who's faced the same challenges you currently have or be able help someone else.
It isn't just about making friends, it is also about keeping up your skills while on summer vacation. Keep practising your ten second this-is-who-I-am-and-this-is-what-I-do speech on strangers until you can say it and they still want to be your friend.
Check out the TechVibes events listing for the next thing in your area. Can't find anything? The future is in your hands! Organize a meet-up. No demos, no scheduled pitches, just geeks with beers (and hopefully a sunny patio). Between all of those online social networking sites you are a part of, you should have no trouble getting the word out. Go forth and make friends.
If you are in Calgary, join us at The Ship tomorrow!