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5 Essential Conference Survival Guidelines

1. Start Small When Planning Your Itinerary

Conferences are packed full of events, and like a marathon, pacing is key. A little bit of planning can go a huge way! We recommend earmarking your top three events and moving from there. But how do you know which top three events to pick?

You may want to start by looking at division programming specifically as it will be streamlined towards your interests. Of course, we’re a bit partial to our SAP Programming, so check out the division’s programming here: https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/convention-programming-2018/

And here’s the full list of all programming for APA (we recommend searching by keyword or division) to get more relevant, and less overwhelming results: http://www.apa.org/convention/program-search.aspx

2. Bring a Bag

Aside from holding that great conference swag, pack essentials in an easy to carry bag. We recommend a reusable water bottle, pens, an umbrella, comfortable walking shoes, band-aids, snacks and a battery-operated phone charger.

3. Make the Most Out of Networking at Social Hours

Social hours can sometimes feel intimidating. First, know what to expect. Usually they’re held in a large open room with lots of space for mingling at high-top tables. Most social hours will have hors d’oeuvres but come early/on time to make sure you get your fill. Some divisions elect for cash bars, and some give tickets for a free drink or two.

Second, know how to make the most out of joining conversations. Social hours are literally built upon the idea of socializing and connecting, so don’t be shy. Walk up to a group and introduce yourself – let people know if you’re a new member, not a member but checking out SAP, or a long-time member. Share your interests, where you’re from, and what, if anything, you’re expecting out of attending (e.g., making connections, asking questions, finding out more about the division).

Third, you can follow either of Dr. Ellis’ two strategies for these types of events – hang by the food table and/or align yourself with other people who seem to be out of their element. It’s always better to approach a new situation with someone else!

Want more tips on networking? http://www.gradpsychblog.org/apa-convention-4-tips-to-help-you-prepare-for-networking/#.WzvZFlMvzdc

4. Look outside the conference

San Francisco is an awesome city! Take some time to recharge your brain by stepping outside the convention center for a few hours. This is another place where planning ahead can come in handy – pick out your top sightseeing goals, and plan them around those top conference events. And be sure to download a transportation application like Uber or Lyft, or check out the city’s local transportation system!

5. Check Out Poster Sessions

SAP has two poster sessions (a full listing of all our programming can be found here: https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/convention-programming-2018/

Poster sessions are a great way to meet folks doing research and clinical work in your particular area of interest. Authors are able to interact with the audience in a more personalized way that allows for great conversation and dialogue, and potentially, new networking opportunities. In fact, Dr. Ellis’ first first-author publication was a direct result of networking at a poster session! One of the Editors from a journal approached her and asked her to submit her poster in manuscript format.

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Cite This Article

Kilmer, E. D., & Ellis, A. E. (2018, July). 5 essential conference survival guidelines. [Web article]. Retrieved from https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/conference-survival-guide/

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