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> Take plenty of business cards, and exchange them with anyone you think
> might possibly by a useful contact. (Shoot, exchange them willy-nilly. You
> never know.) Jot a quick note on the back of the cards you get to remind
> you who this person was.
I'll emphasize this. I've been to three conferences (sadly, I'll sit
this year out), and I've made a staggering number of contacts, many of
whom continue to be invaluable resources to me via email. Don't skimp
on cards - I brought 200 last year, and came home with maybe 75.
> Use the proceedings to help choose the sessions you want to attend. Have
> some alternatives for each time slot. There were a couple of sessions that
> were full by the time I got to them last year, so it was nice to not have
> to waste time trying to figure out what my alternatives were.
This is very important. All the presenters try hard, but sometimes a
session isn't, shall we say, what you expected. It's good to have a
backup or two, including knowing exactly where they are. If you walk
out on one session, you won't waste any time finding another one.
In '94, in Minneapolis, the Tuesday afternoon sessions hit a bad streak
for me - in both afternoon sessions, I hit my backup, my second backup,
and in one case a third backup session before I found something
worthwhile. If you're paying your own way, it helps you get your
> Don't be a wall-flower: Mix, introduce yourself, ask questions, have fun.
This is huge. You get out of these things pretty much what you put into
them. I make a point of thinking of at least one question to ask at
each session, just to keep me thinking (and after two days in chairs,
this can be important!)