Today’s post is the second in the series: Tips for First Time Convention Attendees by Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD (Psychology, Ohio State University). Dr. Shapiro is a speaker and consultant in career development, education, ergonomics, human factors, leadership development and learning. Ron’s TV Game Show style Education by Entertainment programs are applicable, easy to remember, educational, entertaining, useful and a ton of fun.
In last week’s blog post, Tips for First Time Convention Attendees: The Basics, we spoke about what a convention is like and obtaining funding to go to the convention. This week we are assuming that you have decided to attend the convention and are preparing for a successful experience.
As soon as you decide you are going to the convention prepare a written checklist of everything you would like to accomplish at the convention. This may include sharing information, obtaining information, networking, etc. Prioritize the list. Start looking for inexpensive airplane tickets. If you are on a limited budget, start shopping for hotel arrangements. See if the convention is looking for “volunteers” to help out. Volunteering may pay for part of your registration fees, but more importantly it may place you in a position to meet people who may be able to be of help to you. Volunteering to be an “on stage” contestant/participant in a program may be beneficial and fun, too. I know some people who were offered jobs based upon a potential employer observing their “on stage” performance. Just be sure that you aren’t volunteering to help in some behind the scenes activity which won’t place you in a position to meet people.
Convention Checklist: Two Months Out
About 2 months before convention order business cards if you don’t already have them. Business cards are useful for networking events, offering to attendees your presentations or poster sessions, trading with other attendees you may meet at social receptions, elevators, or before or after programs. They are also useful for entering various drawings which exhibitors may have at the exhibit hall.
Convention Checklist: One Month Out
About one month before convention look through the program and make out your personal schedule. If there are people you want to meet, try to make appointments to see them. If you are currently a student or are looking for a job make several different versions of your resume (one for each job type you would be pleased doing). If they have a job service at the convention and you are seeking employment learn how to use the service and make appointments. Start to practice your elevator speech, that is your one minute presentation of who you are and what you want to do.
At the convention, try to arrive a day or two early and/or stay a day or two later if you want to tour the city. Take advantage of every possible moment to meet people. For example, if you happen to be in or waiting for an elevator with someone introduce yourself. If you arrive early for a program speak with the people next to you. Try to attend meals, etc. with people whom you do not know rather than with friends from home. Remember, the conversations which go on in the hallways are often more useful than the convention sessions, so don’t worry if you miss a session to speak with an interesting person. Try to gain a flavor of the entire convention by attending some sessions, some posters and viewing the exhibit hall, but above all else meet people and begin to network.
Ron would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.