From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2021
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Getting to meet and speak with people at a conference
Filed under: Networking, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs
Posted by: site admin @ 4:31 pm

There were a number of “burning questions” students
asked after class on Monday.  One was:
   “At the conferences I would like to talk to some
“B. G. Shot” professors because their talks are
interesting to me.  But it seems that some
professors are/were busy for just a “student.”
How can I arrange to get some time with them?

This is a hurdle for nearly everyone to engage.
I find it myself, even today.  Timing and
situations often play a role.  In fact, if I attend
a talk and wish to speak to someone, but am
unable, the least I do is write a courteous
“thank you” to create an email or phone dialog.

Some ideas to consider that may improve your
-          Remind yourself that young scholars
are important to a conference. .. cutting edge
work, breath of fresh air, different insights….
-          Remind yourself: ’schmoozing’ is important
and ok.  Check out others people’s nametags, you
do want to know who they are.  Let them see your
nametag so that they can identify you.
-          Send an email indicating that you know
you want to meet in advance of the conference. 
Ask them about recent or current work and be
open for meeting at that conference or a future
-          Prepare a question ahead for a speaker
and pose it during the question and answer session.
Know all aspects of your “presence” will be
observed– stand, be civil, project, be properly
dressed, etc.
-          Stay in the main conference hotel, whenever
possible.  The idea of staying with a friend who
lives just twenty minutes outside of town is
usually a bad one.
-          Take the initiative and introduce yourself.
Be a good host.  Introduce others around you.
This means talking to others, keeping in mind
the people you know and have met so that when
you meet someone new, even if your interests
are a million miles apart, you can always say,
‘Have you met so and so?’
-          Be socially generous.  Invite others along,
bring them into conversations, introduce them
to colleagues, connect them to someone of
common interest.
-          Accept invitations to eat with a group,
especially gathering of more important people.
-          Be kind.  ‘Everyone is in this together.’
-          Recognize and celebrate the fact that the
most important and enjoyable part of a meeting
is the stuff that occurs outside the sessions.
-          If you have the chance to introduce
someone big and someone small, do It by
asking the big person if they’ve met the
small one, not vice versa.

One Response to “Getting to meet and speak with people at a conference”

  1. site admin Says:

    E. Bernstein wrote a compelling piece in WSJ about
    speaking up in groups, a related situation for professionals.

    While I submit the “science” seems correlational which
    implies not necessarily ’cause-effect relationships,’ the
    “help ideas” and comments are meaningful.
    - concentrate on listening
    - business meetings can be different than what is faced in
    classroom settings.
    - be precise, be specific and be blunt:
        + start a conversation with a little background – for
    example, say “Eric, remember last Friday when we discussed…”
        + always use names instead of pronouns – say “Jack wrote
    it” not “he wrote it”
        + use titles instead of nouns – say “I read The Cat in the
    Hat” not “I read a book”
        + use dates – say ”Thursday September 8th” not “next
    week” or “next Thursday” or “very soon”
        + use real-life examples to illustrate instead of
    speaking in generalities
        + provide links or copies of any text you refer to

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