A few weeks ago, I posted on an upcoming in-person conference and my (personal) anxieties around traveling and attending an in-person conference in over 2 years.
Well, I am happy to report that I had a very pleasant experience at The Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) conference for the National Professional Development (NPD) grants. Several project directors and evaluators were in attendance from across the country. I didn’t count, but I am guessing maybe ~250?
MNA is an evaluator for the Clemson University‘s 2021 NPD grant.
The reason I am writing this post is to pen down a few thoughts (while they are still fresh) on how I was able to make a few new connections and manage to network while being masked and (trying hard) to maintain some social distancing. Honestly, the latter is not possible.
A few tips for both new and seasoned evaluators who are perhaps getting ready to go to the upcoming very big American Educational Research Association conference in a few weeks in San Diego, CA.
1. Take brief notes (about the sessions you have attended and people you met, where feasible)
2. Build on your existing and new connections (I went out for dinner with our clients)
3. Exchange business cards (when I ran out of my cards, I took pictures of name tags and do intend to touch base with them soon)
4. Identify collaborators and potential mentors (who are willing)
5. Contribute to the topic/subject area (share your ideas, speak up, engage in a group session where feasible)
6. Stay present (keep your devices away if and when possible)
7. Attend and engage in the networking sessions: both formal and informal ones
8. Use conference apps to make connections and engage
9. Consider offering help to others rather then exclusively asking others how they can help you
10. Wear very functional footwear – yes, I walked a lot, stood a lot, sat a lot too.
11. Carry a light sweater/ something warm as temperatures do vary in large ballrooms
12. Carry a snack or two; find time to stretch
13. Always thank the conference organizers. They work very very hard
14. Spend time at the poster session and engage with the project team members.
Happy conferencing. Until next time.