Remember this post about going to ALA? Well, it happened, I went, I saw, I feel like I have a better idea of how to handle myself next year. Top 5 of things learned at ALA, in no particular order:
1. ALA in New Orleans at the end of June, city yes, time of year, no. While I loved the city
and the food, you walked outside and were immediately and totally drenched in humidity, not pleasant for dressing professionally. Midwinter in San Diego last year, should have gone with that one and skipped the Michigan chill.
2.Make a gameplan for walking through exhibits, not all vendors and displays are created equal and you don’t want to spend half your time lost in the automated systems you don’t care about (although, that’s where the good food was hanging out sometimes). Also with this, don’t pick up a book just because it’s there, or you’ll end up with a stack of books that you probably don’t want and will never read (and you really don’t want 90 tote bags that you’ll never use).
3.Go to the early sessions and sit in front (not the very front). The early sessions tend to be sparsely populated, leaving room for more interaction between the audience and presenters. Along with this, how can you participate in discussions when you’re in the very back?
4.Bring extra business cards and don’t be stingy with them, I mean seriously people, how else are you supposed to keep track of who you’ve talked to and what you talked to them about (I liked to write contextual information on the back of their card so I wouldn’t forget). I also think it’s a great idea to email them and thank them for their help. Especially good if you’re looking for a job, but it’s just general manners, really.
5.Act professionally always, because there are tons of potential employers there and they will remember you (one panel member talked about a former student of his puking over a balcony railing, that’s the only thing he remembers about the kid now). Not to say you can’t go out and have a great time, just do it in moderation.
It was a great experience in all, I feel much more confident and ready to navigate the next conference (mid-winter in Dallas, annual in Anaheim, we’re see which one works out better). Meanwhile, I have a whole mess of books to read.