Conference season is fast approaching with the major student affairs and higher education-related conventions occuring within the next few months. Conferences are packed with educational sessions, professional networking opportunities, and the chance to socialize and reconnect with colleagues and friends from across the country and world. I would like to offer some suggestions on how to make the most out of your conference experience.
- Spent Time to Meet New Colleagues – I am confident to say that we are all friends in student affairs! We share the same professional culture and experiences and love discussing what we do. Nowhere can we do this more than at national and regional conferences. Introduce yourself to colleagues you are sitting next to during sessions, attend Tweet-Up’s, and participate in conversations related to what is going within our profession. Making new friends and professional connections is not only fun, but can also help you down the road if you you ever need to contact someone outside of your own campus for objective advice or ideas.
- Make the Most of Using Social Media – With the advent of application-ready hand-held devices, we all have the ability to share our thoughts and the thoughts of session presenters with those who are not in attendance at the conference. By using a conference-related Twitter hashtag, you can create tweets by sharing snippets of the educational information you learn during sessions as well as your own feedback (this is called the “backchannel“). Not only will this help you to pay attention to the main points, but this is basically public note-taking that you can refer to later and that your campus colleagues and superiors can follow as well. In this regard, you have a lot to share when someone asks you, “So what did you learn at the conference?”
- Do More Than Just Interview – For those of you who will be interviewing and networking for new positions, particularly graduate students, do not spend your whole time at the conference interviewing. By only interviewing, you are missing out on a whole host of other educational opportunities and chances to interact with professionals you normally would not have. Set a reasonable limit as to how many interviews you will schedule and take the rest of your time to participate in other conference activities.
Enjoy the conferencing season, and I hope to see you at #ACPA12.
What are some ways in which you maximize your conference experiences?