I have gone to a lot of conferences in my life so far and as I have negotiated these spaces, both large and small, I have developed a set of tips, if you will, of things that I found beneficial when going to conferences. So here are some of these tips:
- Network Often and Well.
If you have been put on a panel with someone you do not know because your ideas intersect then network! Have conversations and see what they are doing at their school that may be inspiring for what you are doing at yours.
- Give Some Love.
Praise is a difficult thing sometimes, so if you liked the paper or panel you just attended and it really made you reflect on bigger ideas, tell the presenters. It is almost guaranteed that they will appreciate knowing that their work was inspiring.
- Attend the Events, Yes All of Them.
You don’t know how sad it makes people who are presenting on the last panel on the last day to see one person in the audience because everyone else is at the pub. You would want people to be there for you, so be there for them.
- Make the Most of the Place you Are Visiting.
Do a bit of research before you leave and discover the cool, inspiring places where you are visiting. Think of things that are both professionally and personally rewarding- art galleries, museums, the cool restaurant. These are all places where you can find ideas to bring back to work (yes even the cool restaurant, especially if your institution has a culinary program).
- Enjoy the Silence- Your Hotel Room is A Great Space for Work.
Even if you are at a conference you still have work to do. Things like emails, reviewing files, even reading, can pile up while you are away; your room is a great quiet space to do work.
- Help Graduate Students or Precariously Employed Folk; If You Can.
Getting someone to buy you a meal when you just spent a lot a lot of money to get to a conference is awesome. If you can, please buy a precariously employed person a meal or even a coffee. That gesture will mean so much to them.
- If You Recognize Someone from Social Media, like Twitter, Don’t Be Afraid to Say Hello.
If you appreciate what they talk about, what they have written about, and the work that they do and disseminate every day, then tell them – giving love and respect is good. Also I love meeting people who follow me on Twitter so if you meet me at a conference say hello!