Conference Tips and Networking Strategies: Making the Most of Your Conference Experience
AAAL GSC is here to provide you with some conference tips and networking strategies to help you navigate the conference.
General Conference Tips:
1. Before leaving for the conference, make sure that you’ve packed any items that will be necessary for you during your trip, such as a cell phone/laptop charger, dongle for your laptop if you are presenting, and business cards. Take some time to review the conference travel and hotel information page, schedule of events (log in to view the program), online program, the conference app, and the hashtags used on social media.
2. When you arrive at the conference, familiarize yourself with the hotel and presentation rooms to know where everything is located.
3. Take time to attend conference presentations and events. This is a great way for you to meet others in the field who may share similar interests.
4. Don’t attend every session, take some time to connect with others. Research ahead of time the speakers you would like to connect with. Engage in a dialogue with someone you may not know. If it is a presenter and you have questions, ask them during the time for questions and answers. After a presentation, share your business cards with audience members and with the presenter and connect with them on LinkedIn or Twitter. After the conference, send a follow up email or a note on social media to thank them for their time, presentation, etc. and summarize the context of your interactions.
5. Step out your comfort zone and be prepared to sell yourself to others. Like a job interview, be enthusiastic when you describe yourself, interests, line of research, and plans for the future. This can be a great way to make yourself memorable, especially if you’re on the job market. Have some conversation starters, such as:
· Where are you from?
· How long have you been interested in _____ topic?
· How did you become interested in _____ topic?
· What sessions are you looking forward to attending?
· What sessions have you attended?
· Are you attending any other conferences this year?
6. If you are an active gym goer, plan some time for the gym. This not only provides self-care, but can also be a way of meeting conference attendees in other social spaces.
7. Use the conference app to post questions you may have, share your conference experiences, and post information relevant to conference attendees (e.g., interesting events, meetings, wellness spaces).