Each week, my Good Genes Genealogy Services’ biz partner and first cousin, Mark Owen, and I meet to review our week’s activities and plan for the upcoming months. Our discussiions always include vibrant dialogue about the webinars, live virtual sessions and other related conferences that we recently attended.
Since COVID-19 rocked our worlds in early 2020, Mark is a much more dedicated attendee than me. For several years, I used to be the avud attendee at numerous conferences, lectures and small sessions with genealogy experts. I have countless notes and photo captures to prove it. Lately, I am back in the groove with virtual conferences.
If you zoom in and view first photograph in this post, you will see a conference badge and notably, my name badge that indicates my two dominate family surnames. It also includes a conference book.
- Get your pre-conference logistics in order. If you are attending in person, check all travel arrangements, especially in this somewhat ongoing health pandemic environment. Virtually? Be sure that your WI-FI is functioning and your tools connect with the conference. Do this hours or even a day before the event in case you have to make techological adjustments.
- If utilizing the virtual meetings, notify your family and friends of the time you will be online. Children, pets, delivery persons and others should be given the ‘heads up.’
- Establish your goals before signing up for meetings. Peruse the countless websites and associations’ offerings of conferences, meetings and other genealogy trainings. Look for the free sites, first. I love my local and state library sites, the National Archives and the offerings by the AAHGS (Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., Metro Chapter) www.aahgsatl.org
Here are a few other freebie sources: https://www.lifewire.com/best-free-genealogy-websites-4163831#:~:text=1%20FamilySearch%20%E2%80%93%20The%20Most%20Extensive%20Free%20Ancestry,Genealogy%20for%20European%20Descendants.%20…%20More%20items…
- Keep your conference materials together. I keep my materials in the same bags or folders that are stored in a larger filing system. I have found the business cards from the authors and other attendees “hidden” within the pocket of my name badge. For example, I received a booklet from the National Archives that is still useful. My notes have proved useful as there are some tips offered by presenters that I don’t regularly hear or read about today.
- Bring your electronic or paper notetaking materials to ensure that you don’t count on your memory. While in-person conferences typically offer(ed) notepads and more, the virtual meetings sometime offer post-event taped recordings. Yet, it is helpful for me to have my notebook and sticky notes nearby for key information such as email addresses of speakers who I wish to contact.
- Look for networking opportunities to enhance your experiences. Virtually, it is absolutely possible to link with presenters, attendees and other organizations since chat rooms and verbal conversations lend itself to such activities.
- Support the sponsors and presenters. Look for the outside websites and on-line stores that may offer you the opportunity purchase retail items.
- Keep all receipts and check out potential tax-deductible, continuing education credits and other potential benefits from attending all conferences. Your virtual time and potential travel (i.e., to another genealogist’s home, office) offer potential tax benefits.
- Do something. If there was a spark ignited in your being to develop an activity, program or related item from an inspirational moment from the conference, make that your beginning of a great work. For instance, I appreciated the outline of a recent, 2-day virtual genealogy conference. Mark and I are planning a shortened version of a genealogy conference.
- Take at least an hour to review your conference highlights and write up a paragraph about the event. This annotated activity will serve you well in future genealogy references and more.
- Send a thank you note to the presenters who you enjoyed (also see #4 for networking), the conference host organizations and other individuals who contributed to the conference. It is a good time — if there is no ‘how did we do’ follow up offered — to politely inform the conference organizers about any technical or otherwise glitches.