Why You Should Attend a Conference Outside of Your Area of Expertise


  • What am I doing here?
  • Do I fit in or stick out?
  • Will I learn anything?
  • Will I have a good time?
  • Am I just wasting my time & money?

These questions have stopped me from attending conferences and seminars. Really it is simple… If I have to give a day or two to anything it better be worth my time. And if its going to cost me a bunch of money? Too risky. 

It’s easy to say no

I made a habit of saying no to that much risk because it seemed reasonable. But one day I realized that those were debilitating questions. Those same questions were holding me back from discovering something new, something I might like, and preventing me from finding an even cooler opportunity.

Saying no was the easy, safe option.

Another reason I didn’t attend a conference outside of my area of expertise? Arrogance. After all, I get paid to speak at conferences. Heck, I create and host conferences… why would I pay to go and sit and lea… oh.

Yeah, that’s the definition of arrogance right there.

It’s more awesome to say yes

Out of excuses I’ve started saying yes a bit more. I’ll never be a conference junky but when one pops up that seems like a good idea I try to make it happen.

Here are 8 benefits of attending a conference outside of my area of expertise

  1. When I develop outside interests I end up learning lots about my area of expertise. 
  2. I realize how much cross-polination happens, I always meet people in youth ministry at non-ministry events.
  3. I build relationships with people I didn’t even know I needed to know, my life is richer for taking these risks.
  4. I’m amazed at how much I can learn in a day outside of my specialty.
  5. Investing in myself is never a poor investment. (Plus, as a self-employed person, it’s a write-off.)
  6. I learn a ton about the conferences I host by attending other conferences. I’m a better organizer because I attend outside stuff.
  7. As much as I like to think my vertical is unique, spending time in another vertical helps me see what’s actually unique and what’s happening in culture as a whole.
  8. I struggle to make recreation a priority, while not a day on the golf course, a day at a conference is a form of recreation.

Question: What’s the wonkiest conference you’ve ever attended? 

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

3 replies on “Why You Should Attend a Conference Outside of Your Area of Expertise”

The last time I went to a youth ministry conference I was so bored because I had heard it all before. Then I went to an after school conference. It was still youth but a different spin and more interesting.

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