Annual Meeting Newcomer Tips

If you’ve never been to the INFORMS Annual Meeting before, it’s big.  There’ll be almost 6,000 attendees and more than 80 concurrent sessions. So here are some tips to help you get the most out of attending the Annual Meeting.

  1. If you are giving a talk,make sure to double-check which session you’re scheduled in. There is no printed program this year, but you can search the program online here or use the mobile app. There will also be several program kiosks on site, where you can look up the full details of your session.
  2. Look at the session code and note the room and time slot. The session code starts with two letters. The first letter gives the day, for instance “S” meeting Sunday. The second letter gives the time slot. Check the app in case of any late changes to the time slot. The number following the two letters is the track number.
  3. Use the maps to find the room. Maps are found in the Quick Reference Guide, mobile app, or program kiosks.
  4. Repeat this process for other speakers you want to hear.
  5. Look at the master track schedule, published in the Quick Reference Guide,for an overview of topics by tracks and sessions. For example, decision analysis talks will be in the same tracks and stay in the same rooms during the meeting. This helps you find interesting talks that you didn’t know about beforehand. For details on session content, check the mobile app, the website, or the program kiosks.
  6. Check out the networking and social events and receptions listed on p. 10-12 of the Quick Reference Guide. These are great places to meet up with colleagues and make new connections.
  7. Check out ways to get involved at the meeting on p. 29 of the Quick Reference Guide. We have a micro-volunteering opportunity set up to help the people of Houston. We’re offering professional headshots. We even have a sticky wall and a coloring wall…you have to see it for yourself!
  8. Don’t miss the plenaries and keynote presentations, listed on p. 30-33 of the Quick Reference Guide.
  9. Exhibitors are listed on p. 34-39 of the Quick Reference Guide, including universities, software companies, publishers, and more. Visit 40 exhibitors, get 40 stamps – and be entered to win an Apple Watch or iPad mini!
  10. Bring business cards if you have them. The Annual Meeting is a great place to renew acquaintances, and your first time is the foundation of your professional network that will grow over your lifetime. You can also use the mobile app to scan badges and connect with people you meet.
  11. Be sure to look at the information on future meetings, listed on the last page of the Quick Reference Guide. You can also find booths for each meeting in the exhibit hall or look up details on the INFORMS webpages. Start planning now and don’t miss these great events.
  12. Meet new people. Renew acquaintances. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I hope you’ll find the Annual Meeting both personally and professionally rewarding.

As you enjoy the meeting, please thank the INFORMS staff and the volunteers you encounter.  As a member of a number of professional societies, I think INFORMS delivers exceptional value, superior to other organizations, at all our meetings.  This results from hard work by both professionals and volunteers.

I’m sure there are many other great suggestions.  Please add your advice for those new to the Annual Meeting.  I look forward to seeing you in Houston.

Bill Klimack, INFORMS VP-Meetings