Getting the Most Out of an Unconference

Unconferences are my personal favorite parts of library conferences. Looking to get more out of presentations? Find yourself tossing away the handouts you get from traditional presentations when you get back to work? Want to do some structured networking? The Unconference is for you!

Unconferences are sessions during which groups of attendees participate in moderated group discussions, focused on learning and sharing. The moderators usually take notes, and then the notes are shared digitally after the conference. It’s a great way to spend a couple of hours discussing a lot of different topics and to meet a lot of different people.

So what’s the best way to get the most out of your Unconference experience? Read on!

1. PARTICIPATE!

There are a lot of ways to participate, and you want to do as many as you can! Be outgoing, actively participate in conversations, and stay as long as you can!

2. Network

Meet new people! Don’t sit with your friends or coworkers, and make sure to get contact information from people that you meet. Bring business cards to share, if you have them.

3. Don’t play it safe

Again, don’t sit with people you know! And when topics switch, or after breaks switch tables and discussion groups.
Are there topics you don’t feel comfortable talking about at work or with your coworkers? Now is the time to bring those up! Get advice from other people who are probably in the same situation as you!

4. Follow Up

Take notes, track down the notes from the organizers, and keep track of those business cards! Email people you networked with, get more information about things you were interested in, and generally don’t just let everything you learned go to waste.

5. Moderate

If you enjoyed the Unconference, consider being a moderator for the next one you participate in!

6. Talk it Up

Promote the Unconference format! Tell the conference organizers it was awesome, tell your coworkers and boss all about it, and let people know they should participate, too!

Have you been to an Unconference, and if so, what was your favorite part? Share your experiences in the comments or over on our Facebook page!

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