I hope you have all enjoyed your week in San Francisco. BPS is the last of five conferences that I signed myself into over the last three months, because I’m looking for places in Australia and thus reconnecting with the locals across three conferences. The other four meetings were all regional, with a very different atmosphere. It’s thus worth highlighting some of the unique things about meetings of this scale, especially if it was your first:
- At BPS, it’s better to email a few people ahead of time and set up a time/place to talk. A lot of top notch research across fields are presented here. So everyone’s running around across more than a hectare’s with of space, and catching up with other people and other research. In this environment, I’ve done a majority of my intentional meetups by e-mailing someone either before or during. In contrast with many conferences of ~10^2 people, you can consistently spot your colleagues and ask on the spot.
- You probably should consider bringing your poster on an extra day in the excess slots. The two hours slot for posters is a very competitive environment, given the 800 other posters as well as workshops+exhibitors. If someone is interested in your work but wasn’t there, it’s a decent idea to offer another time when you can invite them to see it.
- BPS has a very large concentration of editors and industry reps. For those who are even remotely contemplating non-academic futures, there’s a lot of people who were in your shoes now standing at the booth. Valuable advice is hiding in plain sight, hailing from across the entire industry.
- Writing a follow-up message is more critical at BPS relative to other conferences. One email to say thanks will help both you and your distant colleague remember each other. Especially for me as a really visual person, I don’t really have the ability to remember the name of whom I’ve met for twenty minutes after a year, although I can spot their face. Plus, you’ll be meeting plenty of internationals whom you won’t see normally, but may call on.
The above advice might come a little late, but never worry: there’s next year in Baltimore, and many other international-scale conferences to practice your skills. See you around.