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How to Take Full Advantage of Annual Conferences

This year's AACRAO Annual Meeting (April 1-4) takes place in the midst of the higher education conference season. Higher Education annual conferences are both a time honored tradition and an important place to network and sharpen professional development. Unfortunately, with recent budget constraints many institutions are forced to choose some meetings over others or are unable to attend meetings at all.

For those able to attend a meeting, the key to maximizing your time involves determining the reasons you are there, identifying some broad goals, and then assessing the breadth and depth of each goal before you arrive. For example, do you need to understand a larger operation or want to build your own special skillset? Would you like to learn a particular area of knowledge more in-depth or explore a variety of topics?

Attendees should take advantage of networking opportunities during the meeting, which means making sure you are open to conversation with colleagues throughout formal curriculum sessions and informally in hallways and lounge areas. Striking up conversations and being available after hours are great ways to meet new contacts, find out who is hiring, and improve your skills by sharing your experiences. Will you offer your knowledge and experience to mentor others, or seek advice opportunities from senior members of the profession?

Getting the most out an annual meeting requires paying attention to all options, choosing goals based on your depth of knowledge and breadth of scope, and finding a balance among them all.

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