18 May 2017

Attending A Genealogy Conference – Something Inexplicable Happens When a Large Group of Genealogists Get Together …

Everyone Heading to the Vendor Hall for the First Time at NGS 2017
by Diane L. Richard
Attending A Genealogy Conference – Something Inexplicable Happens When a Large Group of Genealogists Get Together …

When the NGS conference wrapped on Saturday, I was exhausted – mentally and physically.  Though, it’s the good kind of exhausted.

For this particular conference I wore many hats …
(1) Represented NGS as the editor of Upfront with NGS
(2) Represented the local host organization, the North Carolina Genealogical Society (NCGS), as Vendor Support Chair and as Local Publicity Co-Chair
(3) Represented myself as a professional genealogist and speaker and attendee

Over the course of the conference, I was fortunate to …
(1) Greet almost every vendor as they checked in
(2) Dialogue with colleagues in many different ways and in many different places
(3) See Facebook friends
(4) Meet in person past clients and future clients
(5) Chat with many individuals as I tried to answer questions about vendors, events, and more
(6) Encounter those who have heard me speak before and who introduced themselves to me
(7) Re-connect with individuals from past events and conferences
(8) Catch-up with people that I know locally and whom I haven’t seen in ages (particularly at the Society Night event)
(9) Facilitate researchers in my “office away from home” at the State Archives of North Carolina
(10) Support some vendors by giving them a shout-out in talks or when in conversation – they have long supported me by publishing my writing or offering my research services
(11) Talk with many new individuals after each presentation as we further explored the topic at hand
(12) Interact with NGS and NCGS individuals, some of whom I’ve only previously interacted with via email, Facebook, Go-to-Webinar, etc.
(13) Honor someone who I greatly admire by attending her lunch (with over 400 others!), Helen Leary
(14) and so much more …

The funny thing is that I was constantly busy, from the time I opened the vendor hall every day until I shut it down every night) and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There was so much ENERGY and EXCITEMENT in every interaction.  It was exhilarating and it’s not often that an introvert says something like that (see Genealogy conferences and the introvert ...)

This all came to mind and then was reinforced when I read what a longtime Upfront with NGS reader (John D. Tew, Filiopietism Prism) had to say about attending his very first conference, which was NERGC, just a few weeks ago -- What Is The Greatest Thing About A Genealogy Conference?  His post conveys so well the feeling most conference attendees walk away with …

You want to tackle that brick wall yet again -- and probably with some new approach you learned about from others at the conference.  In short, you realize the conference and the energy generated by the presenters and the participants has rejuvenated and invigorated your enthusiasm for genealogy and you cannot wait to get back to the detective work of discovering and documenting your family history.

So, though some are ready to proclaim in-person genealogy conferences dead, I think the attendance numbers for NGS this year (not yet officially released) and the experience of John and many others, whether attending their first conference or their 30th speaks volumes that genealogy conferences are incredibly dynamic and invaluable to our community.

Though I spend a lot of my time working alone, out of my office, researching long-ago dead people, it was fun to take a week and connect and re-connect with so many living people who share my passion about family history.

As you consider whether to attend NGS 2018 or any other future conference, do keep in mind all the benefits that come from attending a conference, as shared by John, which goes well beyond the content shared via presentations!



What is your favorite part of attending a conference?

What pleasantly surprised you at the most recent conference you attended?

What is/was the first thing you decided to do post conference as a direct result of attending a conference?





















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