Sharing What We Learn

Making the Most of Conference Events

I love going to higher education conferences because they allow me to connect with colleagues, share my experiences, and most of all, learn what others are doing. I go to some inexpensive in-state conferences and some more costly ones, depending on our professional budget for the current year.

Diagram connecting with multiple ways that relate to networking
Networking diagram from Linkedin post by Alex Antonatos. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140811224310-5995656-your-biggest-career-mistake-not-attending-industry-conferences

One valid question that always comes up in institutions, is how attending such events adds value to our organization? Another, how do we share, implement, and remain proactive in using these experiences?

I always go in and attend with the best intentions to save all notes and create tasks for me to make improvements right away in my work. What I have found is that this tactic was unreasonable. Instead, I have focused more on the main objectives of my participation in the event and distill the most important ideas that pertain to my institution and current work. This has helped to proactively ignore distractions that held promise and concentrate on the objectives I set. From there, I take notes, see if the slides are being shared, and determine what aspects are the most important to take back. Notes (and sometimes slides) are saved in a team Google folder to share later. After I return from a conference, I get to briefly present to my department the main points and action plan (if any) during staff meeting.

Reward Example from Networking with Peers

One example of concentrating on the goals and connecting with people led to a tri-university collaboration and presentation on accessibility efforts. It is so exciting to see things like this come to fruition.

Accessibility Across the Northwest NW/MET 2017 conference presentation
Accessibility Across the Northwest – NW/MET 2017 Conference Presentation. Description and Recording available at: http://nwmet.org/conference/event/2017-conference/recordings/

By narrowing my focus, sometimes networking with a presenter or other attendees has led to some great collaborations. I have to always remind myself that is is quality, not quantity that matters.

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