Getting the Most Out of Academic and Industry Conferences

Getting the Most Out of Academic and Industry Conferences

Given the rich tradition of the University of Phoenix, particularly the School of Advanced Studies, as an innovator at the intersection of the applied/real-world and the conceptual/scholarly, industry conferences have a heightened importance and relevance for faculty, students, and staff here. While we attend and robustly participate in academic conferences, industry conferences are an especially good fit for who we are. We live and excel at that scholar-practitioner interface.

Going to conferences is typically expensive and time-consuming, so it makes sense for an attendee to get the absolute most from that experience. To help SAS faculty and students best prepare for conference attendance, we’ve included a few suggestions below. Our comments here won’t be a comprehensive as other similar resources but we wanted to hit a few highlights. They are divided into three sections: before, during, and after the event.

Understand the differences between Industry and Academic Conferences

Preparing for the Conference

Before the conference, we recommend preparation, preparation, and more preparation. This applies whether you are presenting or attending. If the former, you’ll obviously want to prepare a first rate presentation. Preparation for conferences should include investigating who the key speakers and sessions will be before you arrive. If possible, reach out beforehand to those you hope to meet in person including those affiliated with the University of Phoenix. You can leverage social media to let others in your network know that you’ll be attending. The more preparation you do, the more you’ll look forward to the conference, and the more you’ll enjoy the event itself.

Also, if you’re part of the University of Phoenix family of students, faculty or alumni, and will be presenting at the event, please let your Research Chair know.

While at the Conference

Industry conferences can be a wonderful source of new and interesting ideas. Focusing strictly on meeting others at an event leaves out the “scholar” part of “scholar-practitioner,” so for any event your goal should be to learn. To avoid being overwhelmed after arrival, choose your educational sessions before you arrive and allocate enough time for in-depth conversations with the exhibitors.

In addition to learning, attending a conference is an opportunity to renew existing friendships, and develop connections with new friends and collaborators. During the conference, we recommend networking, networking, and more networking. As mentioned above, reaching out to people you’d like to meet in person in advance is extremely helpful. We also recommend wearing comfortable shoes.

After the Conference

After the conference, be sure to follow up with those you met, as well as those you hoped to meet but didn’t get a chance to. Not everyone you contact will respond but don’t take it personally; it goes with territory of human interactions. However, it’s still good form for you to email all those you met and respond to all those who proactively reach out to you. This is especially important if you presented. Be sure to follow-up with anyone who came up to meet you after your presentation (and gave you his or her contact information because you always ask for that). Also, if you’ve presented a paper, again be sure to let SAS know. Learn more about representing University of Phoenix in your presentations.

More than anything, getting the most out of industry conference absolutely requires that you have FUN. If you prepare and network, there is a high probability that you will find the conference both fun and rewarding.

About the Author

James Gillespie



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