With all this talk about Drupalcon Denver next week, its got me thinking about my first experience of a Drupalcon when I went to London last year. Officially, August 23rd 2011 in London was my first day working at Ixis and it was certainly an eye opener.
I had been working with Drupal for 5 years before this date, but never a true Drupal head or representing a company solely working with it as a CMS. As a first timer, experiencing the support network alone was invaluable. Meeting those face to face that you only come across in IRC or on Drupal.org forums is priceless in itself. Add to this the vast range of code sprints, learning sessions and keynote talks, and you've got yourself an event you cant afford to miss.
For anyone thinking about whether they should attend Drupalcon Denver, or its European counterpart Drupalcon Munich later in the summer, I would highly recommend it. Even if you don’t attend a single session (which would be foolish of course) you will learn more about Drupal, the community, processes, coding and support in those few days than you will in a year working in isolation.
I was of course there to set up and run the exhibition stand, but I did sneak off into a couple of key note talks and learning sessions. From a business, strategy and marketing perspective, meeting partner agencies (and sneaking a look at the competition) was a great insight into how Drupal evangelists work together, rather than in opposition to support the advancement of Drupal. From a developers point of view, I cant see how you could not go to at least one conference in your lifetime.
So if you are not sure whether to go or not, I'd say go for it. Whats the worst that can happen? You'll collect a load of freebies, meet some supportive like-minded Drupal enthusiasts and feel good about your CMS of choice!