There was a great conversation recently over on the EMP facebook page. One of the groups followers asked if anyone had advice for a first-time attendee at the AAM Conference (in Minneapolis this year!). It quickly became the most active conversation in the group, with many of us chiming in with tips, recommendations, and a good dose of encouragement. But a facebook post will eventually get lost in the crowd, and next year we’ll see the same question again from another new attendee. So today’s EMP Blog post will memorialize the great responses so that anyone can reference them at any time. While these responses were for the AAM Conference specifically, most of them can be used when thinking about any local, regional, or national conference you might be attending for the first time.
The Question: I will be attending the AAM Annual Conference for the first time this year! Any tips for newbies?
- Make your own business cards and take a lot of them! When you get someone’s business card, write on the back what you talked about so you can reference specific conversations in a follow-up email after AAM. Talk to everyone! Contribute to conversations on Twitter with the AAM hashtag. Bring a jump drive to download session notes and outlines from the provided computers. Finally, have fun!!! It’s an amazing time.
- Network, network, network (with business cards)! It sounds kind of cheesy, but the fellowship I got last year required us to go to “Speed Networking” session…like speed dating…a few minutes to talk to each person, swipe cards, etc. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the conference, and I still keep up with several of the people via LinkedIn!
- Don’t be afraid to leave a session you don’t like and go to another one.
- I’ve gone twice now, and really love attending on-site insights at local museums. Sign up for one or two of them to get your feet wet, and see how you like them. I think they’re a great way to break up the day and learn something different. Also, come to the EMP event! We’re always happy to help orient new people at the conference, because a lot of us were in that position ourselves very recently.
- I second the EMP events & the advise on leaving a session if you don’t like it or want to jump into another one in the same time slot. the on-sites are a great way to network as well since you’re usually on a bus there & back. it gives you more time to actually connect on a specific experience. last thing! i attended a resume workshop for EMPs and that was a great way to get insight & focus on getting your resume in the best shape for jobs. have fun!
- Go and talk to everyone. Don’t assume that just because someone has more experience in the field than you that they won’t be interested in good conversation with a new person. I cannot tell you how many amazing contacts I have made at museum conferences, and how many incredible people I have met. Be a little bit fearless. Everyone is there to meet other people, and it’s your best chance to get insight into other people’s work. Also, go to the social events and not just the formal sessions. I think the real work of the conference often happens outside the formal rooms. Get on Twitter and follow the live feeds and join in on the conversations.
As always, feels free to add more in the comments section!