Your first conference can seem like an intimidating and unfamiliar experience. With a little preparation you can make your first BC Library Conference a rewarding and fun event.
Get prepared: Visit the conference website (if you’re reading this, step 1 is complete!) and read through all of the pages. Important pages to review: Programs + Speakers pages, Conference Schedule, On Site Events – list of complimentary Food & Beverage events included in your registration.
Plan ahead, but be flexible: Most of you will have chosen the sessions you plan to attend, but flexibility is a good thing. Have a plan B and C, sometimes a session doesn’t meet your expectations or you see another that catches your eye. Check out sessions that are out of your comfort zone or usual subject areas! Session seating is not assigned, so please arrive in good time if you want to be sure of a spot.
Get to know your surroundings: Arrive at the hotel a little early and take some time to familiarize yourself with the layout of the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront as the conference will be taking place over 3 different levels of the hotel – visit the At the Conference page for the full breakdown of what’s happening where.
Wear comfortable shoes/clothes: You will be on your feet more than you think as you walk to all of your sessions, social events and venture from the hotel during your down time to socialize with your new friends and colleagues. This goes for clothes too! Make a good impression, but make sure you’re comfortable to sit, stand and walk your way through the conference.
Bring some ‘pocket snacks’: While there is some food and beverage provided, not all snacks and meals are included – visit the On Site Events page for a full listing. Eat a good breakfast before you arrive and bring a couple of portable snacks in case you get hungry. Note, on Friday, lunch is not included – bring a bagged lunch and enjoy the sunshine outside (positive thinking!) or go experience one of Vancouver’s myriad of restaurants – visit the Around Downtown Vancouver page for a list of restaurants nearby.
Be ready to network: This is your opportunity to meet colleagues, new friends and potential employers. Make sure that you have a 30 second elevator speech ready to introduce yourself to anyone you may meet; tell them who you are and what you do. Business cards are helpful for making an impression and connection. It’s easy to make and order your own at moo.com, office supply store or print them on card stock yourself!
Make sure to network and socialize: Talk to everyone! A conference gives you the unique opportunity to meet colleagues from organizations across the province and other areas. It can be easy to just chat with people you know, but get outside your comfort zone! Chat with your neighbours while you wait for sessions to begin or stand in line. You never know who you’ll meet. Don’t be afraid to wear a First Timer ribbon (ask at registration) – people are always glad to share information with someone new to the Conference.
Participate in the Explore the Floor: The Trade Show can be a little intimidating for first timers. Explore the Floor is a good way to break the ice and approach an exhibitor to start a conversation and learn about what they do and products/services they offer. Bonus, fill out your form and get a chance to win some great prizes!
Reflect and follow-up: Take the time to reflect when the conference is done. If you need to write a report for work or school, try to get it done while it’s still fresh in your mind. Make sure you complete the survey, so the conference committee can figure out what went well and what can be improved for next year. The survey will be sent to delegates after the Conference. Follow-up with anyone you want to stay in contact with and/or wish to connect with further. An email is all it takes!
We look forward to seeing you at the 2017 BC Library Conference and many more to come!!!