In honor of the upcoming American Historical Association annual meeting, December will feature tips you can use to get the most out of attending conferences.
In order to produce great work, historians must keep abreast of new projects, arguments, and methodologies.
Scholarly journals showcase these developments, but they do not allow for a live, peer-to-peer discussion of them.
Conferences also provide a great opportunity to meet new people.
People open doors to knowledge, friendship, and opportunity.
So, how can you meet more people at a conference?
In this post you will learn 5 Tips for how you can project and use confidence to meet more people at conferences.
5 Tips for How You Can Project Confidence & Use it to Meet More People
Be confident in your intellectual achievements.
Whether you have studied on your own or in pursuit of an advanced degree, you are an expert in your field.
In fact, you may be the expert of your specific niche.
Be mindful of your expertise and carry that knowledge with you because it will help you realize that you have something valuable to offer and that you are a person worth speaking to.
Participate in conference panels or sessions either by presenting a paper or by asking questions.
Use your experience to inform your questions.
Some of the most interesting questions occur when people ask speakers to draw a comparison between the ideas a speaker has discussed and an occurrence the question poser has seen in their own work. (These questions work best when well thought out and when the periods of the panelist and question poser are similar.)
Attend receptions, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Conference-goers attend extra before- and after-hours events to see old friends and meet new people.
The casualness of food and drink creates a social atmosphere that increases a person's openness to conversing with someone new.
3. Be Outgoing & Positive
It can be intimidating to introduce yourself to someone new.
But, you must go to the people you want to meet because they will not be looking for you.
Comment on something they said or an issue they raised during the conference.
Most people love to talk about themselves and their work.
Smiles broadcast a positive, fun attitude that will help attract people to you because positive people are more fun than boring or sad people.
4. Project A Professional Persona
Look the part.
Dress professionally in all aspects of your attire from shoes and clothing to briefcase/handbag.
Act the part.
It is important to be yourself, but you should project and embody the best version of yourself at a conference.
Be your most social and confident self by remembering that you already share a lot in common with other conference-goers: you are passionate about history and you are attending the same conference.
5. Invest In Business Cards
Buy high-quality business cards.
Moo.com has great looking, professional business cards. They are a bit pricey, but totally worth it.*
Be strategic: Design your card around your personal brand.
- What colors do you use (or plan to use) on your website? What are your school colors? Use those colors for fonts or backgrounds.
- Does your website (will your website) have an image? If so, use that image on the back of your card.
- Name your position under your name. Unaffiliated? Use “Independent Scholar” or something more descriptive such as “Historian of Ancient China” or “Historian & Writer” as your title.
- Do you have a masters or doctoral degree? Consider using M.A. or Ph.D. at the end of your name. It shows gravitas and, after all, you earned them!
- List your website/blog URL.
- List your email address and phone number.
- Be social. Provide your Twitter handle or the address to your favorite social media site homepage.
Need an example? Here’s my card.
As you can see, I incorporated the colors of my website and banner image into my card.
I also added round corners for a nice, non-traditional touch that reflects my non-traditional career choice.
People pay attention when they see the quality and feel the weight of my business card because its shows that I am serious about what I do.
Being mindful of your expertise and participating in a conference will help you feel like you belong at the conference.
Participation will also help other attendees recognize that you are a member of their intellectual community and that you are someone they may want to know.
Looking the part will also help you feel like you belong, which in turn might help you feel more outgoing. Also, people are attracted to others who look and act like them.
Finally, good business cards will help others remember your name and show that you are serious about and invested in your work.
Use these 5 tips and you will network better and meet more people at your next conference or seminar.
What Do You Think?
How do you make the most out of your conference experiences?
*The link to Moo.com is my "refer a friend" link. If you decide to buy business cards from them and use my link, I will earn money towards my next set of business cards.