Last week I attended the Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM) Aotearoa conference. I love attending conferences as it is one way of learning new things, however as an introvert, I find the whole networking side of things a bit of a challenge. This conference, did a number of things that made things a lot easier to connect with other attendees which I thought I would share.
- All presentations, including plenaries, were held in rooms where seating was at tables for 6 to 10 people. This made it easy for (or you could say essentially forced) you to interact with other people at the table by introducing yourself when you sat down.
- Most of the presentations included activities for people to work on together, or group discussions, reflections, which again encouraged you to interact with other attendees
- Name badges were easy to read, and included the name of your institution. This is a useful prompt for engaging with other attendees, for example, “oh, I went to Massey, what do you do there?”
- A two hour gap between the last talk and the conference dinner. Engaging with people, even in fun workshops, can be draining for introverts, so a two hour gap is good for some quiet, alone time to recharge.
- The conference dinner was followed by a trivia quiz which allowed people to get to know each other (and their knowledge of song lyrics, movies etc).
- Conference organisers actively introducing newcomers to other attendees
All of the above in addition to some excellent presentations and workshops made this conference one of the most memorable ones that I have attended.