Monday, April 11, 2011

How to Attend the Perfect Conference

Ok, I admit there is no perfect conference. At least not on paper anyway.  The conference organizers do they best they can to present offerings for all their attendees.  But inevitably they always fall a bit short, at least with some people. But every conference can be nearly perfect and I'm going to reveal to you the secret how.

At the New England Regional Genealogical Conference which I just attended, I met a woman named Maria at a banquet luncheon.  Maria had a Portuguese background and was a little disappointed that there weren't any offerings for her particular ancestry.  I told her not to worry because we had one of the best New England genealogical experts on the Portuguese right there at the conference - Ruy Cardoso, CG.  Even though Portuguese research wasn't on the menu at this conference Maria was still able to talk to a Portuguese expert.

The Secret Revealed

Attendees at conferences include not only hobbyist genealogists but also many professional genealogists.

If you find that the talks in the conference brochure don't meet your needs try these techniques to make the conference perfect anyway.

Ancestors Roadshow

At the New England Regional Genealogical Conference we have what they call an Ancestors Roadshow.  I suspect that they have this at other conferences across the country.  At a roadshow,  conference attendees can have a private one-on-one consultation with a professional genealogist.  This can give you new insight and direction for your genealogical challenges.  To get the most out of a roadshow appointment come prepared.  Have a specific question in mind to present to the professional.  Also, be sure to provide them with a one-page summary of what you know and a list everything have already checked, including searches that turned up empty.


At many conference you will find booths in the exhibit hall for the Association of Professional Genealogists and for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Both of these organizations are a good place to find genealogical experts.  Stop by their booths and tell them what you are looking for.  They will be able to let you know if someone who specializes in the area of your research need is attending the conference.  They may be able to help you connect with that person.

Conference Organizers

Lastly, the staff of the conference itself are a great resource.  They are often familiar with all the speakers as well as professionals who are attending that are not speaking.  Stop by the registration booth or the hospitality table and see if they can connect with someone with the right expertise or at least someone who will be able to tell you who you need to talk to.

Get Creative

Making a conference a success is much more than just accepting the program that is printed in the conference brochure.  By reaching out and talking to many new people at the conference you will have a much more fulfilling experience.  And you will be enriched by connecting with folks with similar interests.

So the next time you go to a conference don't leave your success up to the conference organizers.  Take matters into your own hands and create your own success. You will never be disappointed!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent tips! At lunch on Friday, I luckily sat with several French Canadian women, who conduct research in that locality. They had attended a session in the morning that I had not attended, but were discussing rare health conditions. One condition sounded like something affecting a good friend. The women were so helpful and shared what they had learned and one went as far as going home, scanning and sending me the information for my friend. All at lunch! :) Not in a class.