Choosing the conferences you think will be beneficial for you isn’t a simple calculation. It is not always the best idea to aim for the largest, highest profile events. Smaller conferences that you know key people will attend, with a theme that fits your work well and where networking opportunities will be less intimidating can be a great option for a PhD student.
Can be high profile
Possibility to meet important people
Look good on your CV
More chance to meet/ engage with others present
Networking is less intimidating
More opportunity to present papers/ organise panels
Can be overwhelming and hard to navigate
Requires lots of planning to meet people
Harder to get accepted onto high profile panels
It's hard to 'hide'!
Can be less impressive on your CV
It's worth thinking strategically as you plan which conferences you would like to attend, specifically consider if there is a 'hierarchy' of conferences in your discipline, and if conferences have associated publications that you would like to submit papers to.
Conferences are not spectator sports so make sure you do submit an abstract! Once you know you will attend, go through the conference information with a fine tooth comb to see if any student presentation prizes are on offer. You will need to submit your paper specifically to be considered for this, so look for deadlines. If you are selected you could win a financial prize, or even be given specialist help to develop your paper for publication.