I haven't had the opportunity to meet many editors since I started freelancing, so when the chance came up to attend a conference for trade publications, I jumped at it. Even if I don't get a single assignment from it (and I'd be a pretty poor self-employed writer if that happened), the experience was totally worth it.
None of my editors was at the conference, so I got to meet new-to-me folks. I listened to what they needed, listened to what they didn't need. The seminars were being addressed to me as a freelancer, but it was handy to see how publications are being run from the inside.
I think the most valuable part was the roundtable where I had the chance to talk to editors about working with freelancers. I learned how they feel about writers who ask for too much money. We all want to be paid what we're worth, of course, but it shouldn't be at the expense of hurting other writers or eating an entire budget. I think a lot of freelancers forget about the budget issue.
I admit to being a little put off by one writer who had no qualms about interrupting a conversation in order to hand her business card into the hands of an editor. When I first got there, of course I wanted to meet as many editors as possible. Then I realized that I wanted them to remember me in a positive way, not as a blur or as rude and pushy. I tried to have a few conversations that had nothing to do with writing. I went to the baseball game that was part of the conference, and, as I tend to do at baseball games, I took score. This got noticed by the others and it started conversations.
All in all, it was a good learning experience for me. I'm anxious to go out on the road again. Editors beware :-)