How to work it at PRSSA National Conference

This post was originally written for internqueen.com. To view it on IQ.com, go here: http://www.internqueen.com/blog/2011/10/how-to-work-it-at-a-conference/ 
 

This week, I am so excited because I am leaving for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) National Conference on Thursday, October 13, 2011. If you are unaware, PRSSA is the largest pre-professional group for public relations students in the world. There are about 10,000 student members nationwide who belong to about 285 university chapters.

UWO PRSSA with PRSSA National President Nick Lucido at last year's conference in Washington, D.C.

My school, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, has a small chapter with about 25 members in it. This year, we have 10 students attending the conference that will be held in Orlando Fla. Before I leave, however, there are many things that I need to keep in mind. PRSSA National Conference is a great place to network, learn and grow as a pre-professional. Below are some tips that I learned after attending last year’s conference for those who are attending this year’s PRSSA conference or any other type of professional networking conference.

Make business cards. Even if you don’t have an internship or if you haven’t declared your major, it is still really important to make professional business cards and bring them with you. Make sure that they are generic. You don’t want to necessarily put your internship employer or current job on your business cards because you don’t want to brand yourself with a company that is considered temporary. My best advice is to put your name and basic contact info, along with your “title”, which in my case is “Public Relations Student”.

Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Connect with people on social media. One of the easiest things to do when you meet people at a conference is to get their name and twitter handle. That being said, make sure you have yours on your business cards! Staying in contact with people via Twitter and LinkedIn will undoubtedly help you when you are looking for jobs down the road.

Bring copies of your resume. This is often the thing that most people forget to do. Although you may never take your resume out of it’s folder, it is a good idea to bring it because you never know if you’ll meet someone who is hiring or may be hiring in the near future. This is especially important to remember if you are a senior who will soon be graduating. Typically, I bring 5 copies and assume that the hotel I am staying at will have a copy machine if I need it.

At the awards banquet on the last night

Travel light. The thing that shocked me the most out of the conferences that I attended last year was the lack of free time that was provided during the few days that I was there.  Typically conferences are 2 to 5 days long, and the days normally start at 8 a.m. and often don’t end until 5 p.m. So, you won’t have a lot of time to sift through a huge bag for an outfit and you definitely won’t have much time to repack everything on the last day. Because of this, I usually just bring a carryon-sized bag and a small backpack. That way, I can control the amount of clothing that I pack!

Have you attended a professional conference in the past? If so, do you have any other tips that you think are important to remember? Are any of you planning to attend PRSSA National conference? Leave a comment below: I would love to meet up sometime when I am there!

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