05 July 2014

Making a Plan: #FGS2014

#FGS2014 will be upon us before we know it! I'm starting to prep by creating my conference plan. 

As a conference attendee, planning your days at an event like the Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference can be quite rewarding. It's quite helpful to know in advance which sessions are on your "must-see" list and which special events and luncheons to look forward to. As a conference vendor, volunteer, speaker, ambassador, and attendee, the planning becomes a bit more... complicated. 

Of course, I also want some time for networking, visiting with friends, and toss in the live #genchat that will be done from the venue. All of this pretty much means it's going to be a long week, I'm going to be exhausted when it's done, but I'm going to have a grand time. 

My planning actually started a while ago when I settled on my dates. I'll be in San Antonio the Monday before the conference, and I'll stay through the week, leaving the Monday after. Yes, it's an entire week of heat-filled fun in Texas for me, but I'm going to need it. I'm going to need the time to settle in a bit, get myself organized, and ensure that I have everything I need. That's what Monday is all about. Travel - set up - change of mindset from regular life to conference life. 

The Paid Gigs

As my role with Findmypast will keep me quite busy, I'll use the time on Tuesday to preset some Tweets and other social media from my personal accounts, and to get all those "on site" tasks started as I wait for my team members to arrive. There is always just one more thing to do, and that includes making sure our area in the Expo Hall looks amazing, grabbing some early pictures to tweet out during the show, and confirming hotel reservations for late arrivals.

I'll take some time to go over my session, "Embracing Technology: Tools You Can Use Today to Move Your Society Into Virtual Space," one last time. This is a panel, which I'm co-presenting with D. Joshua Taylor, on behalf of the NextGen Genealogy Network. I'm excited for it, and I hope that the attendees will walk away with new, practical tools to assist their organizations, that they can implement immediately. That's the goal. 

Volunteer - Ambassador - Attendee

This conference is certainly not going to be boring! As a volunteer for the Preserve the Pensions War of 1812 effort, I'm planning on spending some time with that team, working to spread the message of our goals to digitize the pension files from the War of 1812. I'm planning on working my social media network as an FGS Ambassador. And I even get to attend a session or two! I'm looking forward to attending the FGS Society Luncheon on Wednesday, "The State of Our Societies," and "Volunteering From A Distance" with Paula Stewart-Warren. 

I'll be honest, the rest of the sessions on my list are questionable. I'll likely get to one or two, but the paid gig comes first, so it all depends on how busy we are over in the Expo Hall. One thing I do enjoy about these events is working with my fellow team members at Findmypast, and how we all try to look out for each other. Yes, we are there to represent the company and our product, but we also encourage each other to get to sessions and continue our own education. 

How is it possible? 

In discussion with a colleague the other day, I listed out all of my roles during #FGS2014. The question that came was, "how do you do it?" How do I keep it all straight, organized, and be where I'm supposed to be? 

The answer is focused preparation in advance of the event and the use of Excel. I started using Excel a lot more about 12 months ago in all facets of genealogy, and the trend has only continued - in fact - exploded! I now have spreadsheets for everything (I've written about this before), and that includes conferences. I have one for Findmypast and Preserve the Pensions, and each includes daily schedules, people I want to connect with, blogging ideas and social media prompts for myself, and more. 

I also get a lot of material from the FGS Conference website and the conference blog. Both are loaded with great material, that you can access in advance. Of course, that all transitions to the FGS app when I'm on site, so I can stay current on what is happening and have it all at my fingertips. 

Let's go to Texas! 

I've only been to Texas once before, spending a few days in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I got to meet Troy Aikman on that trip (his hands are huge - woah!) but I am absolutely positive that San Antonio in August will top that! 

I'll be there - with my boots on! Will you? 

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