Why I Attend Small Conferences by Kevin Brown, from Inside Higher Ed has some really good points.
First, I actually get to interact with peers from colleges and universities that are more like mine.
I am able to receive encouragement, support, and constructive criticism on the papers I present. There are too many horror stories of young professors and even graduate students who have been flayed by the questioning at national conferences.
smaller conferences offer opportunities for leadership that national conferences often do not.
One thing I like about the small conferences is that you can get to know people. This allows more collaboration and more contact across schools. That’s a blessing to us and to our students.