#4 Read the Program
During the conference, you give the program a nice skim. You note how many great sessions you just don’t have the time to go to and you vow to read the abstracts on the plane.
But a week later the program is lost in a drawer somewhere.
Reading conference programs is the best way to be on the cutting edge on the field. Most websites post the programs, so misplacing the program is no excuse to not read.
Reading the program is potentially much more valuable than reading the latest issue of any journal. Journal research is 3 years old—conference research is much fresher.
#3 Email that Person
Whether it’s with a professor or a fellow graduate student, at every conference we almost always have a great stirring conversation and then vow to keep up that conversation. However, a week goes by and first email isn’t sent, and the contact seems to be lost.
Statistically, chances are that the best person to talk about your research is not at your school. Don’t let a potential great conversation pass you by.
#2 Focus on What’s Important
After a particularly stirring talk about research philosophy or a spectacular talk that combines field work and theory, you vow to focus on the important things. You vow to take a step back, evaluate your career, and start doing research that makes a difference.
However you return home and on Monday morning you dive into a data set and all that desire to really focus on the bigger picture goes away.
Professor Jim Bettman of Duke University advises, try to make the greatest impact you can and don’t always rush to the data. After a conference we have the momentum and inspiration to focus on big impactful research, don’t let momentum die.
#1 Talk More
At research conference you actually spend time talking to people about research. At school you spend time reading research or collecting data. But at conference you talk and it is wonderful.
At conferences we often find a ten minute conversation with a fellow researchers is more valuable than the tens of hours we’ve spent reading on that topic. Don’t dive into a book when you get back. Cultivate that conference vibe of going out to happy hour with friends and talking research.
There’s a reason we spend thousands of dollars on conferences every year, because face to face conversation about research is valuable. However, we often forget this in the comfort of our daily academic lives.