Just I have done for most of the last 20 years, I will be attending and presenting at the International Listening Association convention again this year.
Last week, USA Today’s Brian Dresher posted his tips on making the most of South by Southwest. These were great tips. I asked him if I could borrow liberally from them, and he said “sure thing.” So here goes.
- Don’t feel compelled to attend a session at every time one is offered. If you do that, it’s a quick recipe for listener burnout. (And I should know. I used to think it was impolite to sit out a session or two. Now I realize it’s more impolite to be zombie-like in a session than it is to be absent from a session.)
- Plan ahead to meet informally with the people you need to see. Check the program to see who is presenting and chairing; that will help you know who will be there. Realize that the presenters and chairs will be fairly busy right before and after their sessions.
- Stay healthy. Make wise choices about your meals and snacks, and drink plenty of water. I usually buy a case of water to keep in my hotel room and make it a goal to finish it off before the conference is over.
- Attend a panel or presentation outside your usual area of interest. If you’re an academic, try some of the business panels. If you’re in the helping professions, see what the K-12 educators have to say.
- Say hello! ILA members are among the friendliest people I’ve come across. Even if this is your first ILA convention, feel free to introduce yourself. You might even get a hug (that’s a warning).
- Arrive early to the popular panels. Sit near the front so you can really engage with the presenters.
- Bring a power strip. You can make LOTS of friends, especially in airports, if you are willing to share your power with others.
- Bring lots of business cards. Even in this mostly electronic age of ours, one of the best ways to exchange contact information is through a business card. I make my own, and I include my photo on the back, to make it easier for people to connect my name and face.
- After the conference, send thank you notes to presenters who made an impact on you. And when I say “thank you note,” I don’t mean an e-mail. I mean a real, handwritten and mailed via USPS note.
So, those are my 9 best tips for making the most of the International Listening Association convention. Do you have a 10th tip to offer?
(PS — I bet these tips would hold true for most communication-related conventions, too.)