I recently returned from the "SQLBits" conference in York, England. I met a lot of folks that I've seen before at other conferences, but I also met a fair amount that had not been to a SQL Server conference before.
Some of them asked me, "what should I go see or do to maximize my time here?" I explained how to examine the sessions and speakers to get the info - but then I told them that this wasn't the only value of the conference. In fact, the true value of any conference is that face-to-face interaction with other professionals. In one case I told a gentleman (a consultant) a couple of names for him to hook up with, which led to him meeting a few others, which led to a new job after his contract is over. Another person found a lady that had the exact technical answer his group had been searching for over a week.
The point is that you should leverage the "before and after" of the conference as much as you do the presentations and trainings themselves - in the end, it really is all about "who you know".
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