Networking the AAAs

some UA anthro grad students at AAA2012

Robin Reineke, Lucero Radonic, Robin Steiner, Pete Taber and Sam Grace at #AAA2012

I am one of those weird people (at least weird among anthropologists I know) who actually likes the idea of networking. There’s a certain thrill to just showing up and selling yourself to a stranger. A sort of competition with yourself that is made more exciting and somewhat less scary when there are 6,000 opportunities (one number I heard for this year’s attendance at the AAAs).

In the past, the majority of my networking has occurred in hallways and presentation rooms, meeting people I hadn’t ever heard of before – a carefree and emergent approach to adding people to my rolodex. But this year, I decided, I was going to be more targeted. I got a bunch of suggestions from peers on how to go about it:

  • go to all the cash bars
  • sign up for a lot of workshops
  • make a list of valuable people, search for them in the program, and show up where they will be

To these I added my own instinct to work the networks I’ve already got, and so I also:

  • showed up to the #AAA2012 #tweetup*
  • made sure I went to former peers’ and profs’ talks
  • went to an interest group meeting**

This was, overall, a success. But I think I’ve still got room for improvement. What say you people (anthro or other conference goers)? What are your networking strategies at conferences? Is there anything that makes you suck at it?

—-

* Rex coordinated it via @savageminds, and then I actually got to meet him, which was definitely my celebrity squee of the conference. The motivation to attend the tweetup (read: meet up of AAA attending Twitter users) was definitely augmented by the exhausting attempt to livetweet the talks I attended – but that’s another post.
** Turns out, the Aging and the Life Course Interest Group + Association for Anthropology and Gerontology Board Meeeting was secretly a guerilla panel that was the highlight of my conference – but that, too, is another post …

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