On Oct. 2, 2014, I spoke to a group of library and information science graduate students at Syracuse University about attending conferences and encouraging them to do so. This is the handout that I used.
LIS Conference Advising Session
Benefits of attending a professional conference or meeting?
Grow your professional network
Make new friends and colleagues
Expand your knowledge base
Expand your resources
Find potential employers
Learn what skills employers are seeking
Share what you know
Realizing that the profession is more diverse than you think
Learning that your knowledge in certain areas is better than some practitioners
Seeing jobs you want to apply for, but you don’t yet have the correct qualifications
How to select the conference or event?
Who is offering it?
What are the topics or sessions?
Who is going? (Speakers? Attendees?)
Where is it being held?
What is the overall cost?
How to select sessions?
Look for hot topics
Expand your knowledge-base
Check for influential/interesting speakers
Go the keynote(s)
Attend the business meeting
# of Days
Travel (flight, train, bus, taxi, mileage)
Housing (hotel, motel, hostel)
Incidentals (laundry, phone)
Talk to people who have attended that event and ask for tips.
Before you arrive, look at the conf. program and note several sessions in the same time slot of interest.
Look for generic blog postings containing tips for first-time conference attendees.
Take time for yourself. It is okay to rest, since the conference-day is a long one.
Dress professionally, yet also comfortably. Comfortable shoes.
Behave professionally. Follow the conference’s codes of conduct and report those that don’t.
Talk to participants that you don’t know. Don’t hang around with your existing clique.
Look for someone to share a room with. It lowers your cost and might create a new long-term friend.
Check for low cost eateries. (Yelp can be very helpful.) Look for a grocery store. Bring food.
Check to see if carpooling or shared travel arrangements could lower your cost.
In a strange city or at night, walk with others, and don’t look like a tourist. There is safety in numbers.
Create and maintain a LinkedIn profile.
Review your social media sites. Do they need any makeovers?
Have business cards. Besides name and contact info, consider LinkedIn URL or Twitter name.
Practice saying what you want people to know about you and your professional aspirations.