Professional Development: Updates before a Conference

As with many museum blogs this week, we’re turning our attention towards the annual AAM conference. We have several posts coming up in the next two weeks, some of which will be specific to the 2012 conference in Minneapolis, but some of which we’re hoping to keep more generic and applicable to attendance at any conference. Today’s post is one of the latter, looking at some of the ways to prepare for a conference in advance.

There are a few different things we recommend all EMPs do when they’re about to attend a conference. Being prepared ahead of time can make the experience much smoother and less stressful, and it’s best to not let these things wait until the last minute. Believe me, when you’re making final preparations to travel, sometimes across the country, there are often more pressing things to be concerned about right before you leave. If you get the following done a few weeks before the conference, you should be in good shape:

  1. Update your resume or C.V. Some of us may not have updated our resume since our last job hunt, or even possibly the last conference we attended. Even if you’re not currently looking for a job, having a few copies of your resume on hand is a good idea, and you definitely want it to be up to date. The AAM conference in particular has great sessions through the Skills Lab, doing resume reviews, for which you’ll need current copies to share. If you are actively looking, your resume can be an important means of connecting with potential employers. That’s not to say you should hand out your resume to everyone you meet, that’s what business cards are for. But, you may find opportunities where your resume is welcomed, and you wouldn’t want to be without it.
  2. Update your LinkedIn profile. This should be an easy task, given our first recommendation. If you’re handing out business cards, chances are people will look you up on LinkedIn after the conference. It’s a good idea to spend a few minutes making sure everything is ready for potential employers, colleagues, and collaborators to view it.
  3. Stock up on business cards. At last year’s AAM conference, I collected about 30 business cards, and I wouldn’t say I was trying especially hard to network. Collecting 30 means I almost certainly gave 30 out, minimum. I remember at the few networking events I did attend (most notably a breakfast for museum educators), our little group just passed around stacks of our business cards until they made their way back to us. Business cards are arguably the fastest and most effective way of getting your name out there, and connecting with people you met after the conference. But, they can also take a while to design, print, and receive (if you’re buying them online or through your work). You should place your order at least a week in advance of when you need to leave, and aim for having at least 50-100 cards ready to go with you.
  4. Set up social media accounts if necessary. AAM has a fun feature that logs tweets made about the conference, projecting them as they happen and calculating who the top tweeters are at any given moment. In 2011, I was tweeting on behalf of the Bay Area EMP group, and had a blast doing it. Those of us who were engaged with social media were constantly in touch with one another, finding out about interesting sessions, retweeting good points someone else made, and engaging in real conversations throughout the day, all through our mobile devices. We even made plans for after-session meet ups using social media, announcing “EMP tweet-ups” at local restaurants for dinner and drinks. Even if you don’t intend to post much yourself, being prepared to observe social media throughout a conference can keep you connected and part of a community.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for getting ready for a conference? We have more to come in the next few days (two of our upcoming topics include EMP friendly events and appropriate conference wardrobe), but welcome any ideas and questions to help everyone prepare for AAM (and other conferences).

One thought on “Professional Development: Updates before a Conference

  1. Two great suggestions came in through facebook as well. One was to reach out to people you’ve met at the conference in the past, and see if they’re going to be attending this year as well. The second was to take a look at the registration list online, and see if there’s anyone in particular that you want to meet (not just EMPs, but writers, bloggers, and other professionals you might admire).

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