Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why Conferences Matter, and How To Pitch To Your Boss

So my blog has been 90% CodeMash of late.  Go figure.  If you’ve read my blog for long you know that I consider good conferences as potential watershed events in the career of geeks.  Software Development Expo West in 2003 was such an event for me, and I’m passionate about pushing Code Camps and other conferences as great ways to improve your skill level and explode your passion about your field.

But how do you convince your management that attending conferences isn’t just them tossing money away without any chance of a return on their investment?  Below is a pitch that might help out.  Yes, it’s framed in CodeMash terms, but that’s becase CodeMash is an insane value when you consider who you get to interact with for two days. 

Maybe try this approach if you’re getting pushback on the cost of a conference.  It may just work for you.

So on to the pitch:

Your developers are a critical asset to your company, relied upon to help solve tough problems in your business and bring value to your bottom line.  To effectively do their job, these developers must possess an odd conglomeration of skills, including problem solving, artistry, engineering, and mystical hand waving.  Keeping those skills honed is vital if your developers are going to remain at their best – but how can you provide skills development for those folks without breaking the bank?

One of the best ways to keep your development staff at the top of their game is through ongoing education, and one of the best venues for ongoing education is software developer conferences.  Conferences provide a tremendously motivating, educational environment where your technical staff can attend sessions from industry leaders, hear keynote addresses from luminaries who drive great changes in their domains, and gather with peers to discuss everyday problems.

CodeMash ( is a unique conference for software developers in and around the Heartland region (MI, OH, KY, IN, IL, PA), and is being held 18-19 January, 2007 in Sandusky, Ohio.  CodeMash will bring together a large number of developers from the Java, Ruby, PHP, .NET, and other communities for this ground-breaking event.  CodeMash features some of the software development industry’s greatest minds who will present sessions on a wide range of topics.  

CodeMash will feature keynote addresses from three industry leaders:

·         Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Developer Division Manager

·         Neal Ford, noted author and Architect at ThoughtWorks, Inc.

·         Bruce Eckel, industry leader and CEO of MindView, Inc.

Attendees will be able to select from a wide range of more than 40 sessions presented by nationally and regionally recognized experts on a wide range of topics such as:

·         Curry Favor with Closures: An Introduction to Functional Programming in C# and VB.NET (Bill Wagner, Microsoft Regional Director, Microsoft MVP and author of “Effective C#”)

·         SOA as a Conversation (Ken Faw, Regional Practice Director, Perficient, Inc.)

·         The Productive Programmer (Neal Ford, editor “No Fluff, Just Stuff”)

·         Let NHibernate Be Your Data Access Layer (Dave Donaldson, Microsoft MVP)

·         Lean Software Development (Mary Poppendeick, internationally recognized expert on agile/lean development and author of “Lean Software Development”)

·         Maximum Velocity MySQL (Jay Pipes, North American Community Relations Manager, MySQL)

·         Improve Your Testing with Open Source Test Tools (Jim Holmes, Microsoft MVP and author of “Windows Developer Power Tools”)

·         EJB3 – What’s New? (Joseph Faisal Nusairat, author of “Beginning JBoss Seam”)

·         Ruby on Rails for Java Developers (Rob Stevenson, Quick Solutions, Inc.)

Normally conferences can be a costly proposition, running thousands of dollars for registration and hotel fees.  However, CodeMash is a community-driven, non-profit event run by volunteers – which means the event’s prices are incredibly low: $99 registration fee (early bird, expires 18 December), and  room rate of $88 per night at the fabulous Kalahari Resort (

You’ll need to act fast, though: CodeMash’s early bird discount ends 18 December, and the special room rate of $88 isn’t guaranteed past that date.

CodeMash’s payoff to your company is tangible: improved developer skills and motivated, excited teams who are fired up to solve your tough business problems.

1 comment:

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