Networking After the Conference: Suggestions for Students

For students, the Society for Historical Archaeology’s annual conference is a fantastic place to meet people – it is a “society” after all. You can explore interests and network with other archaeologists including academics, professionals and peers. However, from one year to the next these connections can be forgotten. Building lasting networks out of conference conversations requires one key activity – follow up. Turning a great conversation into something more can be tricky, however. Here are a few tips.

We all think we will remember the details of conversations had with archaeologists whose work truly interests us, but three days, a rolling sea of faces and names, and a drop of beer can taint even the most amazing memories. Take the time to write down details of your conversations at the conference. Include not only the things you would like to remember but also those things you would like the other person to remember about you. Read over your notes and make any additions that would clarify them. For example, it turns out that the person you met day one was a student of someone you met day three. That connection may help future conversations flow.

It is no surprise that many conference attendees arrive home with new work and some backlog, not to mention our personal lives. Follow-ups should occur soon but not too soon after the conference. Waiting a few weeks allows for everyone to recover while reducing the chance that your efforts are met with a quizzical response; “Who is this again?”

Maintaining the new lines of your network isn’t all timing. Your follow up should include some idea for a next step. Give some thought to a transition from the conference to some clear and reasonable goals. Otherwise, you are just reminding someone that you met. Perhaps you can use the time since you last spoke to chew over the next stage of your dialog. Set a few reasonable first step goals for the exchange. If these truly elude you, you may ask why are you contacting this person.

If you are asking your new connection for something, especially time, you should have some idea of what you have to offer in return. Often those attending conferences serve on one or several of the many committees that it takes to run the SHA. Volunteering to help can be a way to connect with a new contact, explore the workings and current issues of the society, and help keep the SHA going strong. Make sure offers you make are ones you can keep, as few things are worse than overextending yourself.

Social media is providing new tools that can help you foster connections from a distance whether you are following or participating in the creation of dialog. More and more archaeologists are joining sites like Facebook or Twitter and or LinkedIn. All can provide either streams or tidbits of current event information from your network or by you. Keep in mind that you are building professional relationships and think about the content you plan to jettison into the digital world.

Not all contacts have futures. Sometimes a great conversation is just that – savor it, think about it, and be open to another at next year’s conference. However, it never hurts to say thanks. Dropping a brief note with a detail or two to remind someone where you two met is a great means to demonstrate you were not raised in a cave by wolves. It also increases the chance they will remember you next year.

How do you maintain your connections with people you’ve met at conferences? What are some communities that are good places to network and meet people? What are some of your fears about networking? Non-students, do you have any tips for students?

This post was co-authored by Jennifer Coplin and Mary Petrich-Guy.

Student Activities in Baltimore

Every year the Student Subcommittee of the Academic and Professional Training Committee (APTC) organizes events at the annual conference specifically for student members. They are listed in the regular program. In order to make these events more visible, however, we’ve decided to highlight some of this year’s student-centered opportunities. It seems Saturday, January 7th is a big day for student activities at this year’s conference.

The Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology and the APTC combine for the annual student forum. This year, terrestrial and underwater archaeologists address issues of dealing with the media in a panel format. The discussion will be focused on student concerns and driven by their questions but all are welcome.

For a second year, the student subcommittee (SCC) has organized a different type of panel.  In informal roundtable settings, recent graduates and young professionals with both maritime and terrestrial research interests host small group discussions driven by student members. The Rap Session offers an opportunity to ask questions about topics ranging from job-hunting, to conference participation. Graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to attend.

Finally, participation in the Society for Historical Archaeology is not just for senior members. Opportunities for students abound. All students are welcome to attend the SCC committee meeting. It is our opportunity to lend students voices to the SHA. Find out what the committee does and how you can get involved.  This year the SSC needs a social media liaison, writers for the SHA newsletter and organizers for future forums as well as other talents.  It may seem early (ok it is early) but you will meet other students; network with other SHA members and build your CV.

Saturday, January 7th, 2011

Check the final program for times and locations.


Student Subcommittee of Academic and Professional Training Committee Meeting

Morning Proceedings

Brining the Past to Life: Archaeology and the Popular Media

Chair: Whitney Anderson and Moderator: Katherine Burnett

Afternoon Proceedings

Rap Session for Student Members

Chair: Jenna Coplin