How do you feel when you go to a conference? Are you nervous? Overwhelmed? Personally I wonder if I’ll ever get to the point in my career where I feel at ease, looking forward to seeing colleagues from all over the nation I’ve collaborated with on projects.
My advisor runs a weekly breakfast club for his advisees, and with a national conference coming up in the next few months, we wanted advice on how to get the most out of conferences. He came up with a top 10, that I’ve organized and elaborated on below. I’ll expand on a few in my next post (Part II).
All of these tips fall under the category of preparing for your own success. They should be done before the conference, and then acted upon. Make a game plan and you’ll return home feeling accomplished.
TIP: Make sure you read the conference program before registration day, so you can plan ahead and make the most of it! Check out the conference website, too!
2. Make the most of face time
Some people remember faces, others names. Some need both to make the connection. Conferences are the perfect opportunity to provide all three.
Ask a question during sessions
Choose 2 presenters you want to meet
*POI = Persons of Interest
Ask your mentor to introduce you to a specific person
Email a POI* before the conference
Reach out to remote collaborators
TIP: Bring a notebook to the conference with easy access to key information (presentation title, day, poster number, etc.). Write down the people you meet, something to remember them by, and their contact info. Follow-up after the conference. It's also a great place to jot down comments and ideas you get during your poster presentation.
3. Get involved
Keep these ideas in the back of your head for future conferences.
Be an abstract grader
Volunteer at the conference / Join a committee
What are your go-to conference strategies? What do you look forward to the most at conferences? Dread?
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Special thanks to SJ, CK, BB, and WR for great insight and discussion on the topic.
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