Writing conferences give a writer the opportunity to learn more about the craft, meet other writers, make connections, and pitch your project(s) to agents and editors. It's the best place to start for any person who is hoping to get their feet wet in the industry. I have been to four so far; each one of them has been an incredible experience and stepping stone for my writing career.
However, I have heard that it is best to wait until you have a project to pitch before attending your first conference. While I might agree on some levels--especially since money is definitely a factor--I would never discourage anyone who would like to attend a conference and may not have a finished manuscript quite yet. I have been to conferences a few times when I did not bring anything to pitch, yet I was still able to gain much from each individual experience.
What do you think? When should someone attend their first writing conference?