Do you have a conference ahead? Is it maybe your first? Fear not, for here are some quick tips on how to get the most out of it and master the art of academic conferencing!
First and foremost: don’t worry about your presentation. Just don’t. Most of the time, the people in the audience are very friendly and helpful. Remember that a conference presentation should discuss work-in-progress that is not entirely polished yet. Scholars know this, so encourage your audience to comment on your work. Bring your own USB stick (don’t forget to delete files with embarrassing names), and a note pad to write down relevant feedback. Finally, don’t over-prepare: keep it relaxed and spontaneous.
At networking events, you might feel yourself gravitate towards colleagues from your own university. Resist this temptation. Try to reconnect with people you’ve met before, perhaps at other conferences or networking events (one tip: don’t assume they’ll remember you as well). Or, just try to make new academic BFFs. Make sure you have your name-tag clearly visible around your neck, and who knows, you just might bump into a potential future research partner.
Food and drinks
When you go to a conference, don’t expect the food or drinks to be great (neither is it worth the extortionate cost). Still, you paid for it, so it would be a shame not to try everything on offer. It’s also an ideal way to explore the local cuisine. One advice, though: don’t forget to do a smile-check afterwards… You don’t want to talk to your academic superhero only to find out later that you had spinach stuck in your teeth.
Attend social events
Social events are an ideal way to get in touch with fellow students and researchers in an informal and relaxed setting. Think of welcoming receptions, dinners, sightseeing tours and evening parties (and after-parties for all those party animals out there). Make sure to attend these events, unless you want to miss out on some (unexpected) awesome dance moves from your colleagues. One last advice here: don’t drink too much. I assume this is self-explanatory…
Live-tweeting is a must-do! Be sure to know the conference hashtags by heart. Make sure you are equipped with a full battery and Tweet 'till you drop! Interesting quotes, cool slides, or simply a good presenter: share it with the world! This can definitely speed up some connections with other scholars in your field. Also, don’t forget to tweet the classics, such as compliments about the conference venue and great organization. These posts have a high chance of getting re-tweeted by the conference organizers. So go out there and become Twitter-famous!
Plan ahead and enjoy
Planning is key! Try to look for the conference app, or download the good-old conference program PDF. Read through the titles and abstracts, and highlight the ones you find relevant to create your own personalized program. Most importantly: don’t forget to schedule some free time as well. You shouldn’t feel bad if you take some time to explore the historical city center when there are no relevant presentations for you. And last but not least: Enjoy the conference!