Conferences are an investment. Just like placing your money in a 401K, spending time and money on a conference can pay dividends many times the costs. The key is, you have to approach them the right way. If you view conferences as simply heading to a major city and listening to a few slideshow presentations, then you are missing out on some amazing opportunities for growth.
Previously I had the pleasure of attending the MicroConf Conference in Las Vegas. Whether discussed during the talks on stage, in the hallway, or on a walk to dinner–these are the key takeaways that made the nearly $2,000 trip worth every penny (and led to me being a speaker at the same event the next year).