The following are suggestions for making the most out of your meeting experience:
- What to Wear: The dress at the majority of professional conferences is fairly formal. If you are seeking a job or looking to impress a prospective graduate advisor, you would be wise to dress appropriately. That said, depending on the location, the time of year, and the specific conference you will see all types of dress.
- Meet people! Don’t be intimidated by professional reputation. Don’t worry about feeling awkward – everyone feels the same way! Just be yourself. Take the initiative. Introduce yourself and really listen to the other person with whom you are speaking. Make it a point to exchange business cards. If you don’t have any this is a good time to print some cards which you can do these days quite inexpensively.
- Connect with other conferees electronically using social media. These days most conferences have a hashtag that conferees can use before and during the conference. Following the hashtag is a terrific way of getting to know what the conference is all about, who is attending, and to find sessions and people with whom you might like to connect when you arrive.
- Eat with other people you meet at the meeting! People always feel good about themselves and other people when they are sharing a good meal. Think about it!
- Don’t go to too many technical talks. Be selective. Inquire from your advisors and others concerning who is known to be a good speaker. If you are interested in going to graduate school you should start thinking about whom you would like to work with as a graduate research advisor. Look to see if any of these individuals is speaking and make it a point to attend one # of their talks.
- Make it a point to learn something new. Select one technical session that is focused on a topic or technique that is new to you. This will provide you an invaluable opportunity for learning and networking.
- Take notes on what you learn and who you meet. I like to use the notepad on my cell phone or OneNote on my ipad.
- Be safe. Don’t wear your badge outside of the convention center or hotel as you will advertising to everyone you meet that you are a visitor. Unsavory individuals may regard you as a viable target for theft or worse so don’t advertise that you are a visitor!
- Finally, and perhaps most important: Have fun!