The good side of conferences is gettng to meet Web 2.0 friends in real life and having the chance to learn and network with like-minded people. The bad side is the pile of work waiting for you (in my case at work, home, and school).
So in that spirit this will be quick list of 10 take-aways or as trainers call them a-ha moments from CIL2009. These are random thoughts in no particular order.
- Book ahead. Aim for a direct flight. Avoid flying through Atlanta. It’s about 400 miles from Charlotte to DC – a 6.5 hour drive. I waited until a week before the conference to book my flight and could not get a direct flight for under $1,000. Instead I booked a super cheap flight from Charlotte to Atlanta to DC. My total travel time on the way to CIL, 12 hours. Total travel time on the way home, 10 hours.
- Trust your instincts. Insect. Crawling. Food. Denial. Bill. That’s all I’m going to say.
- Arrive early. If you are live blogging, arrive to sessions early to grab a spot in the front at the bloggers’ table. Otherwise you will be balancing a laptop in your lap.
- Speakers choose your content wisely. CIL sessions are mostly short 45 minutes sessions with several speakers. This gives each speaker a short amount of time to cover his or her material. This was a new concept for me, but as a speaker it forces you to share only the most important pieces of your content. See the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule to learn more.
- Attendees don’t be afraid to change sessions. If you go to a session and it turns out for any reason not to be what you expected or need, leave. Don’t feel bad. You won’t hurt the speaker’s feelings. This is your conference. Get what you need. Learn something.
- Speakers be prepared for people to leave. It is hard as a presenter to see people leave. But remember that it has absolutely nothing to do with you personally. People have a variety of reasons for leaving. Don’t let it throw you off course and whatever you do don’t call people out for leaving.
- Monitor the back channel. You’ll get feedback on sessions as well as content, find out who is meeting where, what restaurants are the best. Twitter is a great tool for learning as well as socializing.
- Take a break. If you try to attend every session possible you’re going to burn out. Take a break. Plan ahead for some downtime between sessions.
- Visit the vendors. If CIL is anything like other conferences, the vendors pay to be there and help fund the conference. Visit the vendors. Talk to them. Don’t just visit them for the schwag. You may learn about a great new product or learn about features you didn’t know about.
- Last but not least, take advantage of the unconferences within the conference. CarpetCon, BarCon, LobbyCon, TableCon. This is where the transfer of learning takes place as participants share what they learned in the sessions as well as share information about how things work in their libraries. The best way to describe it is to think of summer camp except staying in touch is much easier with Web 2.0 tools.
What were your A-HA moments? Please share in the comments.