Reason 1: Presentations
Presenting at a conference is a phenomenal professional development opportunity. The process of researching and compiling a presentation provides valuable transferable skills. Presenting itself affords you the chance to not only practice sharing your ideas with like-minded individuals, but refine them through the receipt of constructive criticism. Of course, presenting at any juried conference is also an excellent CV and resume builder,
Reason 2: Networking
Look, we get it. Conferences mean growth and intellectual stimulation, but they also require spending hours or days in the company of strangers in an unfamiliar place. They can be exhausting and overwhelming. If this is your first time attending a conference, you might find the idea of presenting just too daunting. That’s alright. In that case, we recommend you focus your available energy on networking. Networking is a buzzword used to describe a process of establishing beneficial professional relationships with people in either the same profession or in a profession you are interested in joining. There are many ways of networking, but one of the simplest approaches includes the following steps.
- Introduce yourself to a fellow conference attendee and strike up a conversation Where are they from? Where do they/what university do they attend? What are their specialties professional or otherwise? What sorts of things do you have in common?
- After you spent a few minutes talking with them, offer your contact information (business card, LinkedIn URL, email address, or phone number [if appropriate]). If they accept, ask for their information as well.
- A few days after the conference ends, contact them and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them. If the individual is in a professional position that you admire or hope to gain access to and it feels appropriate, offer to send them your resume or CV and ask them to keep you in mind for any related positions that open in the future.
There are many approaches to networking, some of which are much more aggressive than the procedure described above. As you research and figure out your own conference networking style, we encourage you to select one that feels most natural. After all, the best way to connect with someone is to be yourself!