Conferences and Events: Running your own event

Photo: 'The Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Indiana' by Joey Lax-Salinas CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo: ‘The Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Indiana’ by Joey Lax-Salinas CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Have you ever considered running your own professional development event or conference? Or volunteering to help make one happen?

There are many reasons to consider running your own event. Sometimes the event you want to attend doesn’t exist yet – the International Librarians Network was created because Kate, Clare and Alyson all said ‘wouldn’t it be great if…’ and then worked together to make it happen. Sometimes the organisers of your favourite event need a helping hand to make it happen.

Organising a professional development event or conference can be a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding. It’s the perfect way to meet colleagues who share your interests, you can create opportunities to hear speakers you love or discuss topics you are passionate about.

There are lots of different events you can organise (or contribute to). Many library associations regularly seek volunteers to help run conferences, you can put on your own event for talks, or organising a networking night like a Tweet-up.

If you’ve never run an event before but are keen to give it a try here are our tips for getting started:

  1. Consider starting small – It’s fun to dream big but try testing the waters with a smaller pilot event. It can help you find like minded others and test out the format without being an overwhelming task.
  2. Plan, plan, plan  but don’t forget to dive in – The planning phases of event management are very important but there will come a point when you just have to leap off that cliff and run the event. It will be scary at times but some things can just never be planned for.
  3. Find your USP and hang on to it – A USP or Unique Selling Proposition is all about figuring out what makes your event special and different from what’s already out there. Think about what’s in it for you and what’s in it for your audience or community and ensure you keep that at the core of everything you do.
  4. Get help – You’ll have more fun and get more from the experience if you can work with friends or colleagues to organising the event. It helps to share the stress but also means there are more heads to solve problems and more bodies to get the job done.

There are also many great posts from other industries full of tips about how to run an event or conference:

Have you run your own professional development event before? How did it go? What did you learn from it?

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