what makes a good conference, what makes a good conference attendee? Part 2

So, if you don’t enjoy a conference, is it you or it?

The first professional library conference I attended was ICML in London in 1998, and it was sooo enormous, I didn’t know how to take it all in. I was very new to the profession, so couldn’t really judge the relevance of what I was hearing, and didn’t know anyone (except that I got to know my future colleagues at Leicester – so I did learn the value of a good social event, except I didn’t learn that lesson so well as it turns out…….)

I remember being such a scardey cat that I hid in my room rather than attend the conference dinner of the first LILAC that I attended when I didn’t know anyone. I must have been insane – LILAC are so friendly, and any conference dinner – despite the prospect of dancing librarians – is a must.

Scaredy Cats

But I have also got so many good ideas, have met so many lovely people, have developed such strong relationships and connections with colleagues from across Europe that I can only conclude that I have become a better attendee.

so that’s got me to thinking……

what makes a good conference attendee?

  • being a little open, and a little (a lot?) brave
    the point of conferences is that everyone in the room has at least one thing in common. And the other thing they have in common is that they’re (probably) very nice. So go on, be a little brave and say hello.
  • try to see the woods for the trees
    ok, so maybe the project or service that you’re hearing about can’t be transferred exactly to your situation, but some aspect of it might be. So being able to spot what you can translate, what flavour you can bring back home is a huge advantage. Not all sessions will change your entire library, but sometimes they can change you
  • contribute
    Giving back, by presenting a poster, oral presentation, workshop is really important.

    • It can justify your attendance (particularly in times of financial constraint)
    • it can be a way of developing and improving your presentation delivery – mostly the audience will be kind.
    • workshops to peers can be a really good way of experimenting before you extend it to others – again, your peers want you to do well, and will be kind (mostly!)
    • we’re an evidence based profession, so important to act like the people we’re supporting – doing research, presenting, publishing
  • share
    • share by tweeting at the time, or blogging afterwards
      • it helps those who can’t attend,
      • helps those who are there but in a parallel session,
      • it can help the understanding of those present in the same session (as was the experience of a colleague, there should be a fuller explanation in a blog I hope to read soon….)
      • and can raise your profile too (hopefully in a good way…)
    • sharing is particularly important if you are in a leadership position, and your absence brings no discernible benefit. Your team can survive without you, but it will always help reduce negativity if they know what you got out of the attendance, what the service gets out of your absence.

This is by no means an exhaustive list – what would you add?

A lot of it is aspirational – I am a better conference attendee, but by no means an ideal or expert conference attendee.

Clearly I need more practice….. 🙂

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One Response to what makes a good conference, what makes a good conference attendee? Part 2

  1. […] what makes a good conference, what makes a good conference attendee? Part 2 […]

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