You can't beat learning new skills and networking in person at journalism conferences. But if time or money prevents you from attending IRL you can still follow along from the comfort of your desk, your couch, a bar stool – your choice.
Former NPR producer Melody Kramer explained her method for attending conferences virtually using Tweetdeck in this article on Poynter.
"Search for the conference hashtag, create a new column, and then modify it to show only links. (I also exclude the words Instagram and Twitter, so I don’t see pictures of the conference itself.) If the conference has a lot of chatter, you can also specify that tweets need to have been retweeted or favorited a certain number of times before they appear."
I use a similar method for monitoring conferences via Tweetdeck, only I include all kinds of tweets, not just those with links, because often people will tweet an interesting quote or fact without a link.
I also adjust my column to show only tweets in English and, as conference hashtags are often noisy, I exclude retweets and make sure I'm only surfacing the best tweets by using the engagement filters to show only those with at least three retweets and likes. Conference hashtags inevitably get spammed by spammers at some point, so if any of those tweets crop up in my column I either block the offending account or mute it in Tweetdeck's settings.
Here's how that looks in practice: