Enjoying Your First STC Annual Conference

Subject: Enjoying Your First STC Annual Conference
From: George Hayhoe <george -dot- hayhoe -at- SRS -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 09:28:00 -0400

I'm getting ready to go to my tenth STC Annual Conference next week
(okay, to be precise, it will be my fourth Annual Conference; the
first six were ITCCs). So Beth Pfeffer's posting yesterday brought
back lots of memories of my first. Since I had a miserable time at
that first conference, let me offer some advice based on that

When I arrived at the conference in Houston in 1985, I was a
one-person documentation shop in a small town in a state with no STC
chapter. (To say that I was professionally isolated is an
understatement!) I knew no one else at the conference and no one else
in STC for that matter. To save money, I stayed at a small,
inexpensive hotel miles away from the conference hotel. I didn't
attend any of the social functions (welcome reception, honors banquet,
or host chapter party).

I got a lot out of the technical sessions I attended, but I wasn't
able to interact with anyone else because I allowed my shyness to get
in the way of my professional development.

Overall, I had a pretty miserable time, though I did learn a lot
(admittedly, though, not enough to attend the next year's STC
conference in Detroit when I had the option of attending another
professional society's meeting in New Orleans the same week as the STC

My next STC conference, two years later in Denver, was a completely
different experience. I stayed at one of the conference hotels,
attended all the social functions, and made a point of introducing
myself to as many people as I could. I participated in some wonderful
discussions both in and out of sessions, and I began several
friendships at that conference which have thrived ever since.

If I were attending my first STC conference this year, I'd be certain

> arrive on Saturday or early Sunday, and do some sightseeing in DC (I
couldn't resist a plug for my home town.)

> attend the first-timers' session Sunday afternoon (You'll get a
chance to meet other new-comers and get some tips on tactics for
conference attendance.)

> go to all the social and meal functions (The continental breakfasts
and networking lunches are great opportunities to meet people and make
friends; the honors banquet, while a little pricey, is also a great
way to meet people, many of whom are leaders in their chapters or at
the Society level.)

> force myself to overcome my shyness and talk to other people
(Chances are, they're as shy as you are <you aren't the only tech
communicator who's an introvert>, and there are always lots of
first-timers at an STC conference.)

> pick at least two or three alternative sessions for every time
period (This year's program is particularly full of wonderful choices,
and the predicted large number of attendees will mean that you won't
always get into your first choice--there are fire codes, after all!)

> be aware that there are changes between the preliminary program sent
out in January and the final program (This won't be as big a problem
this year as previously because the preliminary program doesn't have
room names in it. Attendees will have to refer to the final program to
know where each session is being held.)

I hope that all of you first-timers at the 42nd Annual Conference have
a great time.

--George Hayhoe (george -dot- hayhoe -at- srs -dot- gov)
Assistant to the President for Recognition Programs, STC

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