Convention Idea: Resource Lists

The roundup of convention resources is here.

So what happens after that big panel, workshop, whatever at your convention?  Do people just take away more than just memories (if they can remember much after a wild convention)?  It's always important in your career-oriented panels to have something to take away.

There are many things I like to add to such events, but one of the simplest, most space-efficient, and effective is a resource list.

That's it.  Just make sure your panels or workshops have, if appropriate, a page of resources handed out, that contains things like:

  • A list of useful websites.
  • A list of "must-read" books that fit the subject of the panel or workshops.
  • A list of schools or institutions providing appropriate classes.
  • A list of professional associations, meetup groups, or online groups that people may want to join.

One page of information may be all you need to make sure that the attendees keep using and building on what they've learned.

And, for a bit of branding, make sure it has information on the convention and the person that presented the panel or workshop.  It helps you stay memorable . . .

– Steven Savage

Convention Idea: A focus on failure

The roundup of convention ideas is here.

How to use Photoshop.  How to find an editor.  How to make a portfolio.  Good events at conventions teach us how to do things.

How an author succeeded.  How an artist became famous.  We hear how the successful have achieved their goals when they speak at conventions, when they lecture, when they instruct.

Positivity is all fine and dandy, but let me suggest that, when doing pro-fan events at your convention, you also keep some events to focus on failure.

Yes.  Failure.  What are the ten things not to do to be an author?  What are the five careers that sports fans think make lots of money but don't?  What would professional artists say in a roundtable if asked "what's the dumbest thing you did in your career"?

Having pro-fan events at your con that speak on mistakes, on what to avoid, can actually have a lot of benefits:

  • Done properly – the "I did this wrong, this is why, this is how I fixed it" people can learn how to avoid or fix common mistakes.  Always make sure any panel on failure includes a  how-to-get-over it section.
  • It can defuse dangerous delusions of competence people may have about their idols and successful people.  Knowing how people make mistakes helps people face their own.
  • It makes people able to face their mistakes easier – especially if it's delivered with humor, understanding, and ideas of how to fix mistakes. 
  • It helps people develop sympathy for others who make errors – knowing others fail, acknowledging you fail, let's you accept it in others.
  • It acknowledges that your convention accepts that finding your dream job is hard, and people will view your events for pro-geeks as more realistic and balanced.
  • It gives you new material to work with as opposed to the same-old-same-old.

So go on, embrace failure as a subject at your convention.  Think of the topics you could cover, the laughs people could have, and the different viewpoints you could bring.

A few suggestions:

  • Have professionals speak on their biggest career mistakes.  Especially good in a more casual or roundtable setting.
  • Combine a discussion of the best software for a profession (writing, artist, etc.) with the worst (though you might annoy some people that make the software).  Make it a debate.
  • Have panels on the "X" most common mistakes in "Y" profession; the five worst things artists do, the six biggest mistakes people make getting into video games, etc.
  • Do a roundtable discussion where attendees themselves discuss the mistakes they made.
  • Discuss great historical mistakes relevant to your convention that relate to careers; what's the worst dub in anime (I was on several panels like that), the biggest flub in film releases, the worst-marketed video games, etc.  Make sure lessons learned are clearly called out.

Remember, you want your attendees to be successes in their geeky jobs.  Help them out by introducing them to failure.

– Steven Savage

Convention Idea – Presentations on Certifications

The roundup of convention ideas is here.

So what certifications are the pro-fans at your con interested in?

People who want careers based around their interests and obsessions have many steps to follow – education, employment, portfolio building, etc.  Missing from this list in all too many cases are professional certifications, except, perhaps in the IT field (and even then they can get overlooked).  Even though certifications can make a difference in a job search (as I have seen firsthand), they do get forgotten all too easily.

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