Why should I go to a conference? This is a question which always comes in my mind when I got many of those “call for conference” invitations in my email inbox. I am interested to go, however, there are always thoughts that come to my mind that there’re might be some problems if I decided to go. First, I would spend a lot of money, for instance for traveling, accommodation, conference fees, etc. Then, I would also spend much time to prepare a presentation or a paper and be there at the conference’s places for couple days. Third, there might be many talks and topics in the conference which are not relevant to my work. So, every now and then, I would rather stay at my office and do work as usual, than planning to travel.
But after some time, I had an opportunity to be in a conference in Barcelona this April. It was a big conference relating to the topic of the interaction between universities, business and entrepreneurship. Last year, it was held in Amsterdam and involved 338 participants from 48 countries. With this year’s theme “Challenges and Solutions for Fostering Entrepreneurial Universities and Collaborative Innovation”, the conference in Barcelona attracted even more participants. In this conference, I presented my work together with colleagues from University of Valladolid Spain and VU University Amsterdam. Here you can find the paper which we had to present.
I was impressed while attending the conference because it was such a big one because of its multinational scope. It took me by suprise that this conference gave me a new experience that changed my view visiting a conference. Therefore, I will share some tips on how to get the most out of your conference visits:
New Conference New City
It is common that an annual conference is held in a different city or in a different country each year. So, it becomes important to make a plan in advance regarding the transportation, accommodation, and information about the conference venues. With these preparations, at least, you have a brief picture in your mind where to go and what to do once you arrive at the city where the conference is held. However, if you think with just having a map of your destination and you are ready to go, think again. I once failed to visit a conference in a country because there was not enough time to get a visa. It was quite a bummer! So make sure to check this out beforehand. While for some countries visas can be obtained with only one mouse click, other countries require some time and money.
New Conference New Topics
Each conference usually has a unique theme. To present your paper in a conference you should prepare a paper of which matches with the conference’s topic. Moreover, you can attend sessions or speeches which are relevant to your research. I do not suggest you to attend all the sessions, eventhough you think the rest is interesting as well. From my experience at this conference, attending all sessions would sometimes make you think too much. You’d have a lot of information that you may not need at the end of the day. I think less is definitely more in this case.
New Conference New People
This is the most important part that you could get from a conference. Instead of just enjoying yourself from sessions to sessions or presenting a paper, you can get out of your “comfort zone” and mingle with people. During the breaks, you can meet and socialize with other academics and researchers who might have a common interest with you. It will provide you with fresh perpectives (for example ideas and literatures) on your own research and may help you to find out what is new in metholodologies and operationalization of your research goals. And as a follow-up, try to collaborate with these people in the near future by simply sending them an e-mail. Do not forget to bring your business card, you will never know who you will meet there. At the conference in Barcelona, I got to know some PhDs and researchers with similar interests. After some talks, we agreed to keep connected through emails or social media. By this, we often exchange literatures and share new ideas and the possibilities to work on a paper together. Everytime I have updates or news from them, I always have a thought like: What a great thing to work with a multinational network!
Knowing all the benefits of attending a conference, now I’ve changed my mind every time I receive invitations for conferences in my email. I now read them one by one to see if any of these conferences are useful. Once I have a conference which I am interested, I take enough time to prepare it. If you ever receive invitations of conference to your email, do not rush to ignore or directly delete them. It may turn out that the one that you have been looking for is among them.
Firmansyah David is a PhD candidate at the Department of Organization Sciences. He also works as lecturer at the Faculty of Industrial Technology Padang Institute of Technology, Padang Indonesia. His primary research area is university-business cooperation, knowledge valorization, and technology transfer.