Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 1: Getting to SUNY Oswego

The purpose of this blog is to let visitors get a sense of the professional conference experience from the effort it takes to travel to the stimulating sessions and people you meet. These posts highlight the activities and experiences at the conference, and attempt to include observations that are hopefully useful to the reader. Feel comment and share your experiences as well!

Content for this post:

  • Travel to the conference
  • Pre-conference Meeting
  • Dinner & Networking

Travel to the conference

  • Plane took off at 8am from South Bend;
  • Arrived in Syracuse around 2; met Anya who is a Resource Sharing coordinator for a group of institutions around Oregon, Washington, and surrounding areas;
  • Shuttle picks us up, takes us to SUNY Oswego; the drive was about 45 minutes, so more than half the day was spent traveling. As I was later to learn, well worth the time; but you want to factor that into your planning.

Pre-conference Meeting
Often conferences will include pre-conference meetings; I was invited to participate in the Technology Advisory Group (TAG) meeting. This group plans projects for the coming year related to technology; in this particular meeting, the group discussed:

Presentations they were giving in the coming days and asked for additional feedback regarding content and delivery; and Priorities for development projects.

The team members were intelligent, professional, yet laid back and friendly. I'd really only interacted with one other, Mike Sullivan of SUNY Geneseo, whom I had seen at another conference and who had invited me to sit in on the meeting. But the other members of the group were welcoming. And it felt good to participate, learn, and offer ideas.

Dinner & Networking

Conferences offer chances to meet others who do what you do. The coordinator of the conference invited us all to a local bar and grill. Although I had known about networking, from previous conferences, we are usually so busy in workshops or running from room to room, that we don't always connect and get to know conference attendees. Not really. However at the dinner, which purposely began with buying drinks, we began to relax; in addition, and I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but we were not asked what we wanted to eat for at least 30 minutes. And then the first courses came maybe about 15-20 minutes later.

In this relaxed environment, it seemed to facilitate building positive bonds and open communication and trust. It helped to set the tone for the coming days, as we often connected and met throughout the conference.

So if you ever attend a conference - and I have been doing this for about 10 years now - I highly recommend finding opportunities to enjoy a meal and drink with a group of people who do what you do. I'd emphasize fun during those time. There will be plenty of time to work, and the positive relationships you build will flow into the collaborative work that you will do.


  1. I love the idea of traveling and learning at the same time. I love doing both. So experiencing them at the same time would be great!

  2. I attended a conference this summer, too. Next year, we should look into attending one in the winter and get out of the cold.

  3. Where'd you go? And that is a brilliant idea about doing a winter conference!

  4. Will definitely take your conference advice Dave!