Menu Close

Reflections on SAA2007 and Ten Tips for an Optimal Conference Experience

I want to start off by saying that I really enjoyed SAA 2007. I met amazing people. I went to sessions that made me think. I gave my first SAA conference presentation. I handed out dozens of cards for the unofficial SAA 2007 wiki and for this blog. I brainstormed ideas for sessions, workshops, books and articles. I have seeds for more projects than a single person could start (let alone finish) in a year.

I will be posting session summaries for a number of the sessions I attended over the course of the next week. I have also added a link to my presentation slides on the new Presentations page (note the optimistic use of plural in the page’s name).

My brain is still buzzing from the whirlwind that was SAA 2007 for me, but I have created a list of the top 10 basic conference attending tips that I (re)discovered during the conference and hope to remember for SAA 2008 (and any other conference I attend):

10: Eat more often. Eat real food. Hors d’oeuvres don’t count.

9: Going full throttle without any breaks for more than one day is impossible. At some point my brain won’t take in new information and all I want to do is sit and think about a session I went to yesterday.

8: You never know which sessions will be your favorites. It always happens that at least one session I wasn’t so sure about knocks my socks off — while another that I was so excited about drives me back out the door after 10 minutes.

7: Always bring an extra jacket.

6: Make new friends. Cultivate your inner extrovert. Be bold and introduce yourself. Never assume that everyone around you knows each other – do the kind thing and initiate introductions. This gets easier the more you practice. And don’t worry – everyone forgets names, that is part of the reason they give us those snazzy name tags and insist we wear them.

5: Bring twice as many business cards as you think you need.

4: Don’t have cards? Make them! I have used both VistaPrint and GotPrint. VistaPrint has a set of designs that they will print for free (with their logo on the back). Gotprint makes super lush, shiny cards on nice heavy stock. Both include online tools to create your card – but will also let you upload a PDF if you want to use Photoshop to do something more graphically inspired. If you ended up with either my Spellbound Blog card or the 2007 Wiki card in your stack of cards, you have a sample of what GotPrint can create.

3: Bring the big book they send you in the mail that describes all the sessions. The on site booklet only has the session titles – and often that isn’t enough information to make your choices.

2: Do the fun stuff! It is a good way to force your brain to take a break. It also gives you a chance to meet new people (see tip #6 above).

1: Be flexible. Plans change, opportunities for networking, brainstorming and being exposed to new ideas are around every corner. The choice to NOT attend a session you meant to go to almost always means it will be replace by something else – likely better than what you had planned to do anyway.

Now.. if I can just remember to look at this before I head out to SAA 2008!

Thank you again to everyone who made this conference open and welcoming. I enjoyed meeting so many fabulous new people and I hope to stay in touch with you all (and remember all your names).

Posted in archival community, SAA2007


  1. anne beaumont

    As someone about to set off for a 2-day conference interstate, thanks for the reminder(s) – particularly business cards (& organisational name badge if you have one) plus the extra jacket (or shawl, it takes less space in the suitcase).
    And I totally agree with the points about the unexpected sessions being interesting, particularly if they are outside your normal sphere of interest/expertise.

  2. Brad

    I AM going to blog on the sessions I attended! Eventually. Maybe. Good suggestions on how to deal with conferences, though. I did not do #6 well enough, alas, but there’s always next year…

  3. Kate

    I know I already mentioned it in my blog post, but I was so sad that I missed the blogger get-together…I really wanted to meet everybody, you especially!

    I hope you’ll be in San Fransisco next year, I think I’ll be a bit more seasoned and a little less all-over-the-place by then.

  4. James

    Among my top 10 SAA conference tips is: Take up smoking, or pretend to. (You meet the most interesting people outside the hotel!)

Comments are closed.