If you have the budget, schedule, and travel all set, you can take advantage of live interactions in an immersive learning environment, which can intensify the transfer of knowledge to you from a provider.
But if you don’t, well, there’s your backup plan: hit the web to find similar stuff.
However… the difference between the conference experience and your access to the explosion of similar interesting content online is largely one of perspective. The conference has one. Without selectivity exercised and maintained from a clear point of view, the probability is that “surfing” and collecting online relevant content will have results that are far less predictable to find, reliable to trust, and punctually effective to use.
The answer: do what the conference organizers do: curate. Here is how one typical conference becomes a 24×7 online knowledge base — with a technique that applies equally well to any knowledge collection. Using the right tool, this becomes practical for anyone to do, on a personal level on up through a community of any size.
See how in this writeup, about the TSIA Conference in eXie …