Many Merits of Conventions
love conventions. Work-related conventions, hobby-related conventions,
they're all great.
a couple of days, I'm heading to the National Association of Asian
American Professionals (NAAAP) National Conference in Boston (check
it out at www.naaapconvention.org).
Conventions like this are good for lots of reasons:
Just like in college, you have panels and workshops for your education
and edification. Unlike college, you're free to drop in and drop
out whenever you like, since you're not being tested on the subject
matter. Just like in college, though, you're free to take a nap
halfway through the talk.
Every conference has superstars of some sort or another--people
that are at the top of your industry, organization officers, or
honest to goodness real celebrities. Try to make a good impression
on these VIP's, so that they'll remember you when they need a
new VP of Operations or someone to star in their next commercial.
In the case of real celebrities, the goal is to take photos with
them while making the "V" sign with your fingers, and to try to
think of something to say besides "I'm a big fan of your work."
Any good professional convention has a career/exhibitor fair.
If you're looking for a job, it's a great one-stop shopping area
for work opportunities, especially in today's depressed job market.
If you're not looking for a job, it's a great one-stop shopping
area for pens, key chains, and other freebies and trinkets (a.k.a.
"swag," a.k.a. "Stuff We All Get"). When my best friend from med
school visited my apartment with his wife and kid, I had more
than enough toys to entertain his toddler, thanks to all of the
stress balls I'd collected from these fairs.
Networking: Did you know that if I hadn't met AsianConnections.com
co-founder Suzanne Kai at the 1998 NAAAP National Conference in
Seattle, I wouldn't have this column today? You never know whom
you might run into-anything from a junior high school classmate
to your next business contact.
Conferences are not only a great excuse to visit another city,
but the organizers go out of their way to show off their city
to you. Since you share a profession or an interest in common
with the convention hosts, they'll know what to direct you to.
For example, comic book convention organizers can tell you where
the comic book stores, arcades and fast food joints are; medical
meeting concierges will tell you where the expensive restaurants
are, so that you can talk some pharmaceutical rep into taking
you there on the company tab. In addition, the hosts will do their
darndest to keep you out of trouble. Getting a convention attendee
killed is really bad for business (http://www.rsna.org/about/history/history17.html).
There's a Broadway musical called "Brigadoon" (Gene Kelly starred
in the 1954 film version). In it, two American hunters find a
Scottish town that only exists one day every hundred years. In
many ways, a convention is a bit like this. Once a year, it arises
from the mists, lasts for a single weekend, and then disappears,
reappearing the same time the next year. Funny thing is, there
are some people that you'll see at the convention that you won't
see for the rest of the year, and when you meet up again at the
next convention, it's as if you just saw them yesterday.
are plenty of other fun things to do at conventions-like taking
advantage of discounts in the exhibitor room the last day of the
convention since the vendors don't want to lug all of their products
back home, or trying to talk your way into invitation only events,
or playing the equivalent of phone tag with your colleagues on
the message board.
in all seriousness, conferences really are great-for education,
for networking, for just getting out of the office. Go, especially
if you can write it off on your taxes as a professional expense!
you at the next convention!