Get the most out of RootsTech 2020 with this tips for having a great genealogy conference experience. Come away inspired to find your ancestors!
Going to a genealogy conference is on the top of most genealogy researchers’ to-do list. Going to RootsTech in Salt Lake City, UT is the granddaddy of them all! [How’s that for a good southern expression.]
The first genealogy conference I attended was a National Genealogical Society Annual conference. I was thrilled – and overwhelmed – at the same time. I attended a lecture for every time slot for 4 days and hung out in the vendor hall at other times. I talked, listened and learned about genealogy for 4 days. By the end of that 4th day, I was exhausted. I’ve learned a lot since then.
As I write this, I am making my conference plan for RootsTech 2020 coming up in late February 2020. I’m sharing my strategies below on how to have a fantastic conference experience and get the most out of your time.
Yes, I am making a conference plan. Just like I never search for my ancestors without a research plan, I do not attend genealogy conferences without a plan either.
What goes into a genealogy conference plan for RootsTech 2020?
1.Lodging – Location, Location, Location……
If possible, I try to stay in one of the conference hotels or a hotel close by. It eliminates the need for a car, and gives me a place for a quick break during the day. To cut down on expenses, sharing a room is helpful, too.
Take advantage of the hotel’s fitness center. After all, we need to counter act all that sitting!
2. Plan the lectures you want to attend ahead of time.Lectures with their summaries are usually on the conference site’s website ahead of time. Make note of the ones you plan to attend. As an example, find RootsTech 2020’s lecture schedule here.
3. Get the Conference App
Many conferences have created their own conference apps. You definitely want to go download that app. You will find a list of the sessions with descriptions there as well. You sometimes will find session handouts on the app. You will find a map of the venue – For those large conference centers, that map is a life saver. Take advantage of the vendor list and map of the vendor hall. Make a note of which vendors you want to talk to.
4. Wear comfortable shoes.
Large genealogy conferences – and even small ones! – require comfortable shoes. A lot of walking can be involved with long distances between session rooms. My first day at RootsTech last year I walked over 3 miles! Running shoes may not look good, but they sure are comfortable.
5. Take “business” cards.
Have some genealogy “business” cards printed up to share with new friends. Include your name, email contact and specific genealogy interests including surnames you research. This is a great way to share information with other researchers, so you can follow up after the conference. I use Moo cards, and VistaPrint is another good option.
6. Visit the vendor exhibit hall in the off hours.
Vendor exhibit halls are very busy during the times no sessions are being offered. It can be hard to get your questions answered. Schedule time to wander the hall and talk with the vendors while sessions are ongoing. You will be able to get your questions answered and learn about new products and features from your favorite genealogy databases.
7. Take breaks during the conference day.
As I mentioned above, at my very first genealogy conference, I attended a lecture during every single time slot. I learned a lot of genealogy, but I was exhausted by the end! I learned my lesson. Now I schedule breaks during my conference day, and I recommend you do the same. Take a brief walk or grab a cup of coffee. You will return fresher and better focused.
8. Take a water bottle and snacks.
Keep a water bottle handy and snacks for when the munchies hit. You know I’m a frugal genealogy researcher. I’m frugal in all areas of my life. Conference food can be expensive and not always the most healthy. I keep my own healthy snacks in my back pack.
When You Cannot Attend the Conference in Person….
Attending a genealogy conference in person is not always a possibility. Family and job demands keep us at home. That’s understandable. The good news is there are still options available to “attend” the conference.
9. Purchase the Virtual Conference Pass
Today’s technology makes being able to attend some conferences through online streaming options. Check to see if your favorite genealogy conference offers virtual passes. For example, RootsTech 2020 offers a virtual pass.
10. Take advantage of sessions that are live streamed.
Some conferences will live stream a limited number of the sessions for free. It’s a great way to hear some fabulous speakers. Here’s the list of RootsTech 2020’s FREE live streaming schedule.
There you have it – my 10 best conference going tips! Have a fabulous next genealogy conference! I might just see you there.
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