sALA and SLA sponsored an excellent panel on May 8th featuring seasoned faculty and students who shared their tips for attending professional conferences. In case you missed it, watch the whole panel through Adobe Connect here: https://ischool.adobeconnect.com/p20phfc98zb/. Below are the top 10 pieces of advice to take with you to your next conference, as composed by our friends at SLA:
1. Attend any and all conferences you can, especially when there are volunteer opportunities available! Conferences show you the breadth of the field and are a chance to discover new interests.
2. Conferences are all about meeting new people and making connections. These connections happen anywhere, from sessions to happy hours to the line for the bathroom.
3. Branch out! Attend a session you may have not previously considered. You can go to any session that isn’t marked “closed”, so go ahead and try something different. You may find your next career, or at least learn some new fun facts to share with your friends and family.
4. Not enjoying a session? Leave! Your time is valuable, and if you are not getting the most of your experience, try something else (see lesson #3!).
5. Follow social media, especially Twitter and Tumblr, to hear the latest buzz around popular sessions, speakers, and social events. Conferences often create a particular hashtag, Google Doc, or Facebook group for attendees to follow (see sALA and SLA’s Facebook pages for more info on this!).
6. Having trouble picking a session? Find a speaker you’ve heard good things about, or professionals from a library system you’re interested in (see #5 for more info on how you can keep up with other sessions).
7. Don’t just talk to people you came with or know. Chat with new people; you never know where it could lead (internship?? job?? new best friend?? fingers crossed!). Worst case, you met some weirdos but hey, you survived. Side note: SLA’s “First Five Years” group and ALA’s New Members Round Table (NMRT) are great places to meet recent grads/alums who surely have great advice to share.
8. Notice the set-up of session rooms. Round tables mean you’ll be conversing with those around you while rows of seats mean it will be a lecture-style session.
9. Its okay to take a half-day or day off from the conference. You may need some time to process all of the information coming your way, plus you may want to explore the city in which the conference is taking place. There will be librarians everywhere you go, so you never know who you may meet outside of the conference walls.
10. Unsure of what to wear/bring? Comfort is key! Our panel recommended “comfortable business casual.” Think of how you want to present yourself. Bring a bag, but consider what you would want to carry all day. Lastly, take your conference badge off at social events. Nobody wants to be that person.
Hope these tips come in handy in your professional development endeavors!
(Cross-posted from SLA)