In two weeks from today, I will be attending the opening session of the NGS Family History Conference in Las Vegas, NV. I am really excited because this is my very first national genealogy conference. In the past, the national conferences were not held near me and were too far for me to attend. I have been planning for this conference since the day they announced that it was going to be held in Las Vegas, NV. The last time this conference was on the west coast was in California in 2004.
Now that I am 95% done with my move to our new house, I can concentrate on the trip to Vegas. I have developed some tips for the new attendees (like me) that I thought would be helpful. These are based on my experience in attending the local conferences in the past.
1. Dress comfortably and wear good walking shoes. I just purchased a pair of flip flops that are so comfortable! I feel like I am walking on clouds! There is a lot of walking involved at a genealogy conference so make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be.
2. Bring a sweater. It would be better to dress in layers but for me, I prefer to bring a light sweater. The lecture rooms have a tendency to be either too warm or too cold. For me personally, I am good if it’s too warm, but if it’s too cold, I will use my sweater.
3. Bring some water. Just as an opposite of tip #2, it can also get very warm in a lecture room too. One way to combat the warmness of a room is to carry a bottle of water just in case.
4. Bring items to take notes with. Now, I ordered a printed syllabus only because my process of learning means that I take a lot of notes on the syllabus page itself. All those who didn’t register as an early bird will just have the syllabus on a flash drive. So if you didn’t get to order the printed syllabus, you should bring with you a form of taking notes (ipad, laptop, or pad of paper with pen.)
5. Arrive early for your session. Sometimes, especially if the speaker is a popular one, the rooms will fill to capacity. When that happens, the room will be closed to anyone who does not have a seat. This is due to fire regulations on the capacity of the room and NGS can’t make any exceptions. If they do, they could get in trouble with the Fire Department and/or be fined. I am a fan of Elizabeth Shown Mills and I know that she is a popular speaker. I plan to get to her lectures early. I know that her lectures will fill up fast and I want to make sure to have a seat.
6. If you have calling cards or business cards as a genealogist, bring them. It will help you to network with others even if you aren’t a professional genealogist. You never know you could meet a distant cousin and want to stay in contact. Vista print offers an inexpensive way to order personal calling cards and business cards and your order can be expedited (for a fee of course!)
7. Network!!! Along those same lines, collect business and personal cards from others. You never know when you might need some help in a distant area and they could get a copy of a document for you.
8. Don’t be a wallflower! If you have questions, ask the person next to you. It’s a great way to make new friends and you could have found someone to talk to about the same genealogy interests as you do. This comes in handy when your family is tired of hearing you talk about genealogy.
9. Remember to be courteous to the speaker. Don’t take pictures, unless you ask first. Don’t get up to leave the room in the middle of their lecture, if you can help it. The speakers put a lot of time and effort into their lecture and more often than not, they don’t get paid enough for it.
10. Have Fun!!! Yes. This conference is a learning experience, but there are new people to meet, vendors to see and new speakers to listen to. Relax and enjoy it all!
I will be there attending my list of classes, but if you see a Hispanic lady walking around with a pink purse and in flip flops, tap my shoulder and say Hi. Or better yet, email me before the conference and we can meet for lunch.