The title of this post is really quite sarcastic. I don't think I have found the genealogical fast lane yet, in fact, I really doubt there is one. Maybe I just shuffle faster than the other folks. But there are a lot of genealogical conferences and I have spent quite a bit of time at them lately. I think there is a need for getting together to learn and exchange stories and information that is served well in the conference format. The next big conference on the horizon for me is RootsTech. I look forward to this conference because it gives me an opportunity to meet and mingle with the bloggers from all over the world and renew contacts and friendships with genealogists and others. I find that this networking activity is extremely valuable. Being able to present is also a bonus.
I see at least five good reasons to attend a conference either local, regional or national:
Reason #1: Genealogy is a solitary activity, for the most part, and attending a conference gives you the perspective of belonging to a group of people sharing your intense interests.
I sit in front of a computer all day. In my prior life, I sat in front of a computer all day, but had an office full of people to talk to when I needed a reality check. Now all my friends are virtual. So, it is refreshing to go to a conference where there are real people in the flesh so to speak, who can converse and ask questions. The main benefit is meeting new people and hearing about their successes and their difficulties.
Reason #2: Genealogical conferences give you an opportunity to stretch your mind and get new ideas to help with your research.
Sometimes to get energized, you need to break away from your usual routine and socialize. It is this socialization at conferences that makes the difference. If you attend a conference and keep to yourself and just go and listen to the presentations, you miss the point. You need to talk to those around you and learn from them. It is a place to make friends and exchange ideas.
Reason #3: There are always new technological developments to learn about and implement. Conferences provide you with a window to what is new about the world of genealogy.
We are living in an age of change. Every age has its changes but our age is particularly impacted by technology. You can hide in a closet and pretend it doesn't exist, but technology is becoming overwhelmingly important as a factor in being able to find and record our family history. For this reason alone, I would go to a conference.
Reason #4: You might actually learn something at a conference.
No mater how much you know or think you know, there is always someone who knows more about a particular subject than you do. I have found some really challenging classes in conferences that gave me insights into genealogical research that I had absolutely no knowledge about before the conference. You can't discount the benefit of learning.
Reason #5: Attend the conference prepared to share what you know.
A genealogy conference is not a one-way street. You need to be into the mode of sharing what you know with others. Attending a conference is one time where you do not have to be self-conscious about sharing your genealogical experiences. Everyone there speaks the same language: genealogy.
I'm sure you have your own reasons for going to a conference. I think you will find even more reasons if you take the time to visit us at RootsTech this year in Salt Lake City, Utah. See you there.