Coming to SLA 2013? Make a Plan

This is a guest post by SLA member and soon-to-be honored SLA Fellow, Dennie Heye.

To get the most out of the SLA Annual Conference, I strongly suggest you see it as a means, not as an end. By this, I mean you should not attend the conference without making a plan that states what you want to achieve at the conference.

The SLA conference is a unique opportunity to learn new things, challenge your thinking, meet new people, and review new products. But SLA conferences are big and overwhelming, so you need to prepare to ensure you get the best value from attending.

If you have a personal development or learning plan, that would be a good starting point for defining goals for the conference. Other good sources from which to derive conference goals are project plans or departmental plans and strategies. Following are some examples of goals you can set.

Our department wants to set up a virtual library. My conference goals would include—
• Attending sessions X, Y and Z about virtual library services;
• Meeting with peers Q and P during breaks to learn about their experiences (find their contact details in the SLA member directory);
• Attending product demonstrations by vendors A, B and C to learn about their virtual library services; and
• Creating an information pack about what I have learned to present to my manager(s) and team(s).

I want to shift toward a knowledge management role. My conference goals would include—
• Signing up for the knowledge management certification workshop prior to the conference;
• Having lunch with SLA Fellow X, who is very experienced in knowledge management; and
• Checking to see which members of the SLA Knowledge Management Division are attending the conference and meeting with members X, Y and Z to get insights.

Review your conference plan each morning to remind yourself of the goals you have set for the day, then review your progress at the end of the day. I also make sure to note the interesting new people I have met and the key points I have learned that I should not forget.


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