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Whether youre attending a national genealogy conference (such as the National Genealogical Society or other events next week in Salt Lake City) or your state or local societys conference, these tips will help you get the most from the experience:
- Wear comfortable shoes. Youll be walking to classes (I’ve even seen tardy folks running), through the exhibit hall, to a lunch locale and to the car or your hotel.
- Dress in layers and bring a sweater in case the rooms are too hot or cold.
- Carry a water bottle and a snack. Bottled water is pricey, as are concessions can be pretty expensive, too.
- Youll meet a lot of people you want to keep in touch with. Bring business cards with your e-mail address, Facebook username and other contact information. Add the surnames and places youre researching, too.
- Bring extra address labels, too, so you can stick them on entry forms for drawings in the exhibit hall.
- If youre attending the conference alone and everybody else seems to know somebody, remember that genealogists are a friendly bunch. Just say hi and introduce yourself. Another great opener is Where are your ancestors from?
- Take some time before the days classes start to learn where the classrooms are. That way, you won’t miss the first 10 minutes because you couldn’t find the room.
- Try to get to classes a few minutes early to find a seat and get settled. Sessions may fill up fast.
- Not sure which class to attend? Ask fellow conference goers, who may have seen the same speakers or lectures youre considering.
- Plan ahead for any genealogy research you want to do and be sure to pack all the charts and records you need, whether on paper or in digital form.
- In the exhibit hall, first take a reconnaissance walk and mark on your booth map all the exhibitor tables you want to return to. Check off each one as you visit it, but be sure to leave time for browsing. If you have a bunch of questions for a vendor, plan to stop by when everyone else is in class so you’ll get the most personalized attention.
- A good question to ask when you visit a vendor booth: “What’s your show special?” If you got a goody bag when you registered, look through the contents for coupons.
- Some exhibitors pack up early on the last day to catch flights or hit the road, so don’t leave important business or must-have purchases for the very end of the event.