I recently had the pleasure of attending CocoaConf Boston. I've been to other iOS/OSX conferences before and the technical lessons I've learned were valuable, but they were very sterile. What stood out at CocoaConf was the sense of community.
Daniel Jalkut's keynote lead things off with a call to improve your attitude and to be more social, and I think that really set the tone for the conference as a whole. That night Guy English made a roomful of developers laugh as he recounted his frustrations with the PSP, but he reminded us that we all need to recharge our own internal batteries once in a while. Afterwords, James Dempsey and the Breakpoints sang about MVC and leaking memory.
Daniel Steinberg made us all cry the next morning with a story that you'll have to hear from him sometime if he is willing to tell it. Neven Mrgan actually admitted that its OK for engineers to do design work sometimes. And I guess that means I have to allow designers the freedom to do some engineering every now and then! Daniel Pasco talked about his journey in starting and overseing the development of Black Pixel. Each of these sessions really let you tap into the experiences of the presenter and get to know them as real people.
There were roughly 100 developers that attended. Over lunches, dinners, drinks, etc I felt like I got to hear a majority of their stories as well. In my current organization, I am the only iOS developer so it was nice to talk with people who have shared some of the same technical and professional experiences. Plus it was nice to crack a few Android jokes every now and then. I even ran into a friend of mine from college who is trying to get into iOS development full time.
My one piece of advice for the CocoaConf team is to keep each event small! That for me was one of the biggest differentiators as opposed to WWDC, Apple's Tech Talks, etc where you feel like just one developer in a giant sea of people. Do whatever else you have to, but try to keep that sense of community.
I encourage you to check out their website and see if one of their events is coming to your area soon!