Attendee Guide to Getting the Most out of the Conference

Posted By: Kimberly Christman Events, Annual Conference,
Rule #1 - Show up early and network! 

Ok, so it’s not a rule per say as much as it is a suggestion but seriously, the Wednesday pre-conference workshops are a great way to start off your experience.  We have 11 different opportunities to broaden your horizons.  We’ve got practical learning like tips & tricks for editing in ArcGIS and the Parcel fabric, Legal issues in GIS, UAV in local government, Field Collection tools & methods; or you could learn about data visualization and storytelling essentials, choosing the right web app, learning about ArcGIS Insights, etc.  You can get your creative juices flowing before we even have the opening ceremony…

Rule #2 - Don’t miss an opportunity to be social

Wednesday night we have The Opening which officially kicks off the conference with food, fun, and friends (or future friends).  The real key to making the event special is being open to a chat with your neighbor.  Start the conversation with, "Hey I’m (fill in the blank) and work at ___".  Ask about their story and you will be off and running to a collaborative experience.  If you’re shy, don’t worry - look for a yellow lanyard (Board Member) and lean on them to have a chat with.  Likely, we are willing to talk too much about ourselves so it takes the pressure off of you.  All kidding aside, us Board Members are very versed in the happenings of the event, and we are there to help, encourage, and include everyone.

Thursday night also has a social event you don’t want to miss, the Exhibitor Reception.  This event will be filled with snacks, refreshments, Silent Auction antics, networking, education, and sales presentations.  Each exhibitor will be there to talk to you about their organization, projects they have recently worked on, display different tech/tools, and potentially sell you on your next project.  This could be a great opportunity to come up with the next big idea to bring back to office!  You could be the hero!

Rule #3 - Philanthropic ideas should be embraced

We have a Silent Auction loaded with all sorts of treasures for all to bid on, even for those that are not in attendance because it's online!  You can see the items up for bid in person at the event or on the Charity Auctions Today website where all bidding is done.  Logistics of getting the items delivered can be worked out with a friend if you want to bid but can't be there.  We will also have a cash-only 50/50 raffle at lunch on Thursday and Friday.  Everything we raise will be used for the WLIA Foundation student scholarships.  It's for the kids!

Rule #4 - Attend the New Member Engagement Orientation

This is a 30-min session on Thursday morning before the Opening Session to overview WLIA and the ins and outs of the conference.  It’s a great place to start and we usually have some prizes for attending.  Also there will be a surprise announced at the New Member Engagement Session - it might be a good idea to attend for even the seasoned veterans.  😉

Rule #5 - Don’t be afraid to try different sessions

We have over 50 educational sessions over the course of 2 days at the conference.  Try to sit in a few and don’t feel shy about going into a session room when someone is speaking.  The captain has turned off the seatbelt light, so feel free to move about the cabin!  Try out different presentations and absorb the knowledge.

Rule #6 - Embrace the keynote speakers

We have 3 fabulous keynote speakers this year and it is very ok to be geeked out by them.  Dust off the Google skills and check these 3 individuals out beforehand.  Dr. Marcus Lewis, William “Nąąwącekǧize” Quackenbush, and Joseph Kerski will be sharing knowledge with us this year.

Rule #7 - Special Interest Groups are cool!

SIGs are pretty neato and we have something for just about everyone.  The hard part about these groups is deciding which one to attend.  There is no knowledge requirement to attend one of these sessions, so feel free to stop by and check things out.  Pretty special if I do say so myself.

Rule #8 - Map Gallery is where it’s at!

Check out the map gallery and see all the amazingly, cool, and innovative displays of geographic creativity that our membership brings to the table.  The official opening for the Map Gallery will be Thursday at 3:30pm with refreshments.  Get some sustenance while you check out all the displays of inspired genius.

Rule #9 - You're never too old to learn something new

Check out the Hands on Learning Lab (HOLL) and take a mini course on whats new with Esri.  Brush up on some skills you're not confident with or just try something new that you never seem to have time to focus on in the GIS world.  Another place you could get some interesting knowledge is the Student And Career Track.  We have sessions on becoming a GISP, hearing about curriculum from a student's perspective, and a whole afternoon dedicated to Career Connections.  You can get advice on your resume, interviewing, and potentially even a real interview. 

Rule #10 - Check out the mobile-friendly agenda

Yes, you can get a paper agenda but there is a digital counterpart that will show any last-minute changes.  Something to have on your phone, tablet, laptop, any other mobile device and you can move freely through the agenda without the annoying shuffling paper noises.  You too can be stealthy.