Even though I have attended SLA once before I took advantage of an opportunity offered by the local San Francisco chapter of SLA: the opportunity to have the assistance of a conference mentor. In this case, a conference mentor is someone who helps you figure out how to make the conference work best for you.
I was lucky in that two different conference mentors were assigned to me. They are both well-known in the field (something I didn’t expect–people who were obviously busy but were still willing to make time for an unknown), and both got in touch with me before the conference. Unfortunately, my schedule the week before the conference (combined with my day job’s distance from civilization) meant that I wouldn’t meet up with either mentor until I was actually at the conference. One of my mentors offered the opportunity to meet up for lunch the week before the conference, so this was a missed opportunity for me.
Once we met, however, I found both to be attentive listeners (which turns out to be something I needed at the moment–I have some concerns about the job search that are unique to people in my position that I’ll write up in another blog post) with useful suggestions for directions and approaches to consider. In the week since the close of the conference I’ve already been in touch with both about next steps and have already had responses.
Both also reminded me why I belong to the SLA in the first place: it’s an association for information professionals working in a variety of settings. These information professionals aren’t limited to working in libraries, and that adds up to opportunity for all of us.