I love attending conferences! Each year I cannot wait for the ISTE Conference because I enjoy the learning and I crave the creative ideas that inspire me to make rich transformations to my teaching. However, in the last few years, the most important part of any conference for me has become the networking opportunities it affords. I like to touch base with all the amazing educators who are successfully integrating technology into their classrooms and hear about their journey.
Due to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus learning has become less individual and is being delivered through online collaborations with other people. Connections are a crucial part of this process. Getting to know people outside of a school or friendship circle is vitally important for professional growth and I take the opportunity to network very seriously. This is why conference networking has become so important. I purposefully want to meet all the people I can, so I can fuel my Personal Learning Network.
Learning is now fundamentally networked:“The smartest person in the room is the room.” David Weinberg. What this means to people attending a conference is that the collective power of the room is about the connections and collaborations available in them. So, while at the ISTE Conference this year, do yourself a favor and attempt to meet five new people a day. You can do that during a session or in a virtual room such as the one the hashtag #ISTE2014 will intangibly construct. Follow the hashtag twitter stream and take note of the people who are actively participating and sharing information – and follow them. You can also use the twitter stream to find a session that best suits your needs, by watching the tweets coming from that session.
Here are a few ideas for connecting and networking while at the ISTE Conference this year.
Start networking before the conference. About two weeks before the conference start to follow the hashtag #ISTE2014 and begin to follow people who actively contribute and engage about the conference.
If you don’t have one, make sure to sign up for a Twitter account before heading to Atlanta.
Attach a photo to your Twitter account so that people feel more connected to you. A picture of your dog might be cute, but it does not make people feel you have invested in the process and therefore they will feel less connected to you.
Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone you have seen on Twitter and introduce yourself. Remember, if they are on Twitter they value connections and will be glad to meet you.
There are no ‘Twitter stars’ so please do not think of anyone as unapproachable. Twitter fame is not real, and people on Twitter with a lot of followers value connections and love networking.
Go to ISTE Karaoke on June 30th, 7pm.There will be a great ‘room’ of people at this event, and laughing at a funny rendition of a song is a great way to start up a conversation.
Go hangout at the bloggers cafe. Spoiler Alert: People are not really there to blog, they are there to network.
Stay in touch. Reach out on Twitter to those speakers you saw and liked, and to those people whose tweets you enjoyed.
Follow-up. In a few weeks reach out to your new friends on twitter or via an email.
Make a top five list for yourself this year. Look for people who interact, contribute and add to the learning of others during the ISTE Conference. Share your well thought out list on Sunday with the hashtag #ISTETop5 and #NotAtISTETop5.
Have fun and good luck. If you need advice, search me out. I am glad to help! I love networking!
Come see me on Saturday – Poster Session in GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria at 7:30pm for EduSlam. Sunday at Google Booth at 10:30am – Presentation on Book Creator and Monday, June 30th at the Google Booth for Google Plus and Hangouts at 3:00pm and my Ignite Session in the GWCC Murphy Ballroom 3/4, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.