How to Build Your Schedule and Connect With Others at SfN’s Annual Meeting
Colin Franz, assistant professor at Northwestern University, shares his tips to end each day of SfN’s annual meeting with a feeling of accomplishment and make important career connections.
What’s your key to a successful meeting?
My advice for a first-time attendee would be, decide the one thing you want to accomplish for each half-day before you walk into the convention center.
I look through the meeting planner and make sure I have identified at least one session, poster, or symposium I'm interested in attending for each half day at the conference. It's easy to fill up your schedule with too many events or wander around and not get much accomplished if you aren’t prepared.
I usually don't fill my whole agenda to allow time for coming across interesting presentations or people as well as to ensure I don’t get totally exhausted. I leave flexibility to have longer conversations, or just take a break to check email.
How do you approach someone whose career or research interests you?
I make sure I've looked at their recent or previous work and have questions ready.
Also, if the conversation allows for it, I show some of my own work or data I think will catch their attention from my tablet. This doesn’t always happen. It depends how the conversation goes. Either way, my goal is to leave a lasting impression.
I also sometimes reinforce our interaction with a follow-up email that same day, and then make sure to keep an eye out for them in the future. There’s always a possibility, even years later, I’ll run into them at my institution, the next year’s annual meeting, or a different small conference. If that happens, I always re-introduce myself to jog their memory.