As a future information professional, my membership in professional organizations is essential to my success. Professional organizations and associations provide members with valuable resources related to the advancement of a profession. Members of professional organizations have increased accessibility and knowledge of new advancements in a field. Possibly the greatest benefit that membership provides is the opportunity to connect and network with other professionals at conferences.
In 2009, I attended the Annual American Library Association Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, IL. While at the conference I sought out workshops, presentations, and events that catered to my areas of interest. At the time I was double majoring in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy and Comparative Cultures & Politics in the James Madison College at Michigan State University. I knew that I wanted to pursue graduate study, but I wasn’t sure which field I would enter. At a career workshop mixer, I met students that were enrolled in information-related graduate programs. By networking at the event, I was able to learn about the evolving field of information science. The students, faculty, and information professionals I connected with helped influence my decision to enter the information science field.
Following the conference I continued to build relationships with members of the organization. By cultivating those relationships I was able to gain career advice, mentors, and access to other opportunities that would benefit my growth as an information professional. My network of colleagues helped me to secure scholarships, fellowships, and academic support to continue my career development. Attending a professional conference and effectively networking proved to be a life-changing experience.
How exactly do you network at a professional conference? Depending on the size of the organization, conference events can be pretty overwhelming with droves of people in attendance. Here is my 5 Step Plan for Effectively Networking at Professional Conferences:
Step 1: Join a Professional Organization
Step 2: Attend a Professional Conference
Step 3: Develop a Plan of Action for the Conference
Step 4: Interact
Step 5: Follow Up
As I prepare to attend the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition in Anaheim, California I want to know what you think of my 5 Step Plan for Effectively Networking at Professional Conferences.
Megan Threats is a second-year graduate student pursuing her M.S. in Library and Information Science with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Information Systems and Telecommunications Management. She received her B.A. in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy and Comparative Cultures & Politics from the James Madison College at Michigan State University. Aside from being a Graduate Assistant for the Global Enterprise Technology Program, she is the Co-Editor of the GET Blog. Her research interests include technology and information management, cyber security, information technology systems, information policy, and governance in the information age. Contact her at email@example.com & find her on Twitter - @TrillScott