Newcomers Guide to the AAUP Annual Meeting

Strategize for Success

Welcome to the vibrant platform of the AAUP annual meeting. You will be exposed to a multitude of panels, plenaries, workshops, and collaboration sessions to help you understand more about what is at stake in the university press community. Because there is more offered than any one person can take in on their own, here are some strategies to maximize your meeting impact before, during, and after the annual meeting.

Before the Meeting

Congratulations on being tapped to attend the meeting. An internal discussion between you and your director or supervisor before you register is crucial to understand what they expect you to focus on during the meeting and what opportunities they particularly want you to avail yourself of. At the point of registration, you should know if you are participating in a preliminary workshop or a collaboration lab (one has extra fees associated, whereas the latter does not). Don't worry if you registered early, or if someone else registered for you—you will have received a confirmation email with a link and registration code. This allows you to review and update your registration options, including what will be displayed on your badge.

Annual meetings always have a theme, and this year it is "Connect, Collaborate." The theme will be echoed, stretched, and amplified throughout the course of the programming, but it helps to keep it in mind as you review the preliminary program. As early as possible, make a tentative schedule of the sessions you plan to attend. Try to include at least one or two sessions that address issues other than those in your home department or particular position. Try to think about larger issues and trends across the UP community. The more exposure to other parts of the publishing process you have, the more informed your work and contributions will be. If others on your staff will be attending the meeting, share your tentative schedule and make sure there is not too much overlap, so that you have the benefit of the most sessions and most information you can bring home as a unit.

During the Meeting

As seasoned travelers and networkers, these few suggestions may seem completely obvious. Bring professional attire for all meeting events, and casual clothes (especially if you intend to do the early-morning run on Friday!) for any sightseeing or down time activities you have planned. Bring at least fifty business cards to hand out as you meet new people. A great trick is to use the lanyard with your badge as a storage spot for business cards. This way, when you meet someone, there is no fumbling in a purse or briefcase. You quickly have a card extended, and you can keep all the cards you collect in there as well for easy reference when you get home. Just make sure you are always extending your OWN card.

The AAUP community has a vibrant social media presence. There are even sessions in this year's program that relate to specific strategies for acquisitions and marketing engagement via social media. The conference hashtag is #AAUP15, and following the feeds in live time allow you to participate in or survey other panels than the one you are attending. Tweets function much like notes, so that you can go back and review what struck you as poignant during presentations. A helpful guide to Twitter strategies is available via the Chronicle of Higher Education.

To get a sense of the diversity of our constituency as well as our similarities, make sure to attend all the open receptions, plenaries, and group meals to benefit from those top-level presentations about the industry at large. University press professionals are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet, but it is not uncommon to feel intimidated by this crowd. There are resources at the meeting to help you feel welcome.

Mentoring Program

This year offers the rollout of AAUP's new mentorship initiative. Supported by the Professional Development Committee, this program matches attendees who wish to be mentored with a mentor prior to the meeting. This will allow newcomers to have an inside guide to the workings of the event. Mentors will: 1) be in touch before the meeting to discuss the mentee's career goals and meeting goals, and set up a time to talk in person early in the event; 2) help attendees navigate the conference program and make suggestions about important panels for their particular career goals; 3) use the scheduled events for newcomers as opportunities to check in with their mentees and introduce them to additional colleagues, as well as give feedback about the larger mentorship program's launch and future stewardship; and 4) as appropriate and desired by both parties, be in touch with mentees post-meeting to assess their experience and discuss how to maintain momentum in achieving their goals.

Even if you haven't enrolled in the mentorship program, there are resources you can take advantage of during the meeting. If it's your first meeting, pick up a "first-time attendee" ribbon at the registration desk.

Networking Lounge

Throughout the entirety of the meeting, there will be a "Networking Lounge" sponsored by Jack Farrell & Associates. The lounge will be located in Tower Court A adjacent to the AAUP registration desk. There will be comfy furniture, some coffee, and snacks. It will be open June 18, 19, and 20.  Stop in between panels to check in with each other and see how things are going.

Newcomers Reception
Thursday, June 18, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

All new visitors to the meeting should try to attend this reception as it is hosted specifically for you! This year, we will use the Newcomers Reception to introduce mentors and mentees if they haven't yet found each other during the pre-meeting period.

Friday, June 19, 12:00 – 1:00  PM

Tables will be reserved so that mentors and mentees can sit together while connecting with other new attendees.

Professional Development Collaboration Lab
Saturday, June 20, 1:45–3:00 PM

This session will focus on resources for new members of the AAUP and highlight the launch of the mentorship program. It will also include discussion of existing opportunities and a chance to brainstorm new channels for UP employees to discover and utilize local and national outlets for professional development.

After the Meeting

Many presses find it useful for the participants to coauthor a document about what they learned, experienced, and were surprised by at the meeting. This can be an informal blow-by-blow of session and plenary presentations. Whatever you decide to do, reporting back to your peers about the Annual Meeting is a great way to encourage year-long participation, collaboration, and organizational commitment.

Be sure to send thank-you emails and emails of future goodwill to any and all new folks that you met at the meeting. Mentors are not required but are encouraged to keep dialogue open during the time after the meeting, if both participants find this useful.

And finally, set goals for how you can keep abreast of AAUP's initiatives, committees, and networks. Would you like to serve on a committee? Would a travel grant be an opportunity to gain exposure to another press's way of handling your job responsibilities? What is your home institution doing to address concerns in the world of scholarly communication and publishing? All of these questions will help determine how you can best serve and be served by the AAUP community, not just at annual meeting time, but throughout a fulfilling and challenging career. You can learn more browsing the AAUP membership benefits brochure.

See you in Denver!

Gianna Mosser
Acquisitions Editor, Northwestern University Press
Incoming Chair, 2015-2016 Professional Development Committee