Jane’s Tips for SLA Conference-Goers

Critical Conversations @ SLA 2004 in Nashville

Contributed by Jane Dysart, Dysart & Jones Associates

For me, conversations are critical. As an active SLA member since 1974 (I was 5 years old when I joined!) and a past president of the association (1995-96), the most important benefit of attending an SLA conference is conversations. Networking and F2F (face-to-face) interactions are so important for learning about what others are doing:

• The successes they’ve had that we can replicate in our own environments

• The issues and challenges for which we should be on the look out

• The new technologies and products that will assist us in exceeding our clients expectations

Here are my tips for getting the most out of your conversations.

Talk to people around you

Whether you’re on a bus trip, in a line, sitting in a session waiting for it to begin, start up a conversation – you’ll be surprised at what you learn. And if you’re looking for people who know about a specific topic, ask those with whom you’ve started a conversation – or ask attendees with ribbons attached to their name tags, it means they’ve been around SLA. Chances are they’ll know someone and can connect you with them.

Attend relevant division suites

Social networking at its best! In my experience, casual conversations always create learning and spark ideas. Which suites? You could try to get to them all, but make sure you get to Information Technology, Leadership & Library Management, and always your subject area – check the registration area at the conference for suite locations and your printed or online program for the times.

Chat with speakers

And continue the discussion from sessions that are particularly relevant to your challenges and environment. BTW, speakers have distinctive ribbons too. And also chat with your fellow workshop attendees if you attend one.

Follow up after the conference

Phone or email are great ways to continue the conversations you start at the conference. Many strong SLA relationships have been built in this way.

For more conference going tips, check out Dan Trefethen’s updated article on conference-going: http://www.sla.org/nashville2004/savvy2004.htm

Jane Dysart


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