Conventions and professional associations

The rest of the convention idea series can be found here.

So you want to get some speakers for your next convention and do some pro-related events.  You've got your usual guests, maybe some regular attendees – but there's more you can do.

You can invite local professional associations.

Professional associations are, obviously, groups that support a particular profession, and there are associations for just about any job, career, or work you can imagine.  They provide events for their members, provide education, help members keep in tocuh, and help them build their careers.

They also can be great sources of speakers and events for you.

People involved in professional associations by definition are deeply interested in their career and what they do.  Many of them are willing to share their time and experience speaking or doing other events – for some it's a chance to promote what they do, others may earn credits for certification or build their reputation, yet others just like to share.  Either way, they're anxious to get involved, and you want to try different things at your convention.

So, go approach them.

Doing stuff on videogames?  See what the local chapter of the IGDA ( can do for you.

Doing events on writing?  Try – or see if there are local groups through a web search.  Don't forget specialist groups like horror writers (

Consider general professional associations if your region has geeky careers in it.  For instance, the Project Management Institute (of which I'm a member) has branches everywhere.  In a place that is IT/geeky heavy you might see if some of their members want to speak on geeky and fannish jobs.

This is a chance to build a win-win alliance:

  • You get solid professional speakers (and possibly get them local and thus with less expense).
  • You build good relations.
  • You promote professional memberships – always important.
  • You promote professionalism in general.
  • You get a shot at getting more attendees because you just made an entire association aware of you.

So hit the internet and check out some professional associations.  YOu may have just found your next speaker or set of speakers for your convention!

– Steven Savage