In another post targeting at junior scholars (PhD students and junior faculty) I would like to make some suggestions about do’s and don’ts when going to the appropriate conferences for you (see previous post on choosing conferences).
- Stay for the entire conference. Nothing makes you look less serious than turning up late or leaving early. You can do that once you are established but it looks bad when you are the newbie on the circuit.
- Stay at the conference hotel. You have already spent a lot of money to get to the conference, why make your networking harder by staying a an off-site hotel? The little bit of money you save by staying offsite is more than lost in the time you lose going back and forth.
- Develop a list of people in advance that you want to network with. Potential co-authors, advisors, folks who can write letters for you in a few years (e.g. tenure letters), and people who are at the cutting edge in your area. Going to a conference without a “hit” list results in you defaulting into one of the don’ts listed below.
- Figure out how you are going to locate the folks on your “hit” list. Some you may be able to fix a meeting time in advance with (potential co-authors), others you may plan to attend their presentations and talk to afterward, others you attempt to locate at breaks (although this is the hardest) and some you locate through various receptions and smaller lunches (e.g. Section luncheons, university receptions etc). The point is that you have a plan.
- Do not stay exclusively in the circle of fellow or former PhD students or with faculty from the University you are currently at. While it may seem “safe” to stay in the bubble of familiarity that cannot be the only outcome of your conference attendance.
- Do not hid in your room. Yep it is tough to network especially as many of us are introverts but hiding in your room is not the solution.
As I think of more do’s and don’ts I will add to this list. Add your own suggestions if you wish at the bottom!!!