This is the part of professional eventing (that sounds a bit horsey!) that I am particularly good at; in fact my only involvement in events so far! Conferences and other similar events are a great way to find out what’s new in your sector, and to expose yourself to lots of different things at once (as opposed to, say, a training day, which is much more focused).
I’ve struggled in the past with getting funding from my employers to attend conferences (the only AUKML conference I was able to attend was the one in London, when I didn’t need to stay over). In the current financial climate that’s understandable (although perversely it’s a little easier to get funding now that there are fewer staff members). But you can pick up all sorts of new info even if you’re just attending the free exhibition side of things (for example at Online, which hosts some very good free seminars).
Every time I attend an event I gain a little more confidence in talking to people I’ve not met before. Part of it is having more confidence in myself, and part of it is recognising people from Twitter!
Whereas a few years ago I would have loitered by the tea and biscuits or hung out with my colleagues at a conference, now I’ll approach exhibitors and start conversations at snack time. In the past year I’ve even, shock horror, attended a couple of things (like the CILIP Umbrella conference and LIKE events) on my own. I know, I’m so brave!
I’m hoping this new-found confidence is going to help me get over my next big hurdle: speaking at an event. I’ve always hated public speaking, I avoided most presentations at uni and the thought of addressing a room full of knowledgeable delegates at a conference fills me with dread. So I’m going to start slowly, by talking about my working day at a Graduate Open Day for trainee info pros later in the month.
I attended the open day when I was a trainee many moons ago, and I’m hoping they’ll be nice! I just pray nobody livetweets my nervous pen clicking and fierce blushing.
In a strange way, helping to organise an event seems less terrifying to me than speaking at one! With two small kids and Chartership underway, now is not the time to add events organiser to my CV, but certainly I’d consider getting involved in future.