Melissa Ianetta just posted this list for first-time attendees: Cs First Time Tips
1. Either use the online program or sit down with the program book when you get there and figure out what sessions are “must see” for your area of interest.
2. Go out and buy some kind of snack to keep in the room so that you’re not compelled to buy $8 muffins when you want a bite between sessions.
3. Go to the Coalition of Women in the History of Rhetoric and Composition meeting and attend the mentoring sessions.
4. Go to Bedford / St, Martin’s Party and consume as much free food as possible while talking to people you don’t know. Use this as an opportunity to broaden your understanding of the many, many kinds of schools and writing programs that are out there.
5. Wander around the book exhibit and try to figure out what kind of books each publisher specializes in and what books are contiguous to your interests.
6. Go to the business meeting — it’ll give you an idea how this racket works on the national level.
7. Go to the opening session.
8. Do talk to people you don’t know who share your interests (we’re friendly!) but try to resist the urge to opening a conversation by telling Ann Gere / Susan Jarratt / David Bartholomae that they, in fact, are Ann Gere / Susan Jarratt / David Bartholomae. (My grad school peers and I have already handled this announcement, so you can be sure they have this vital information).
9. Drink TONS of water — the talking and hotel air will turn you into a raisin.
10. Have publishers send you books. Avoid the almost-overwhelming desire to request every book you see. Do not try to carry them all home. Save your back and your luggage weight, if possible.
11. Bring a suitcase large enough for any swag you acquire and books you covet to the point of carrying them home.
12. Stop by the Newcomers table and yap with whoever is there. Our job is to help people figure out what’s what, to be friendly faces in the midst of an otherwise busy place, etc. Not that other people aren’t friendly. Maybe I should say we’re charged with being extra-friendly!
13. If possible, have a buddy. You don’t have to stay side by side all the time, but it multiplies the number of people you meet, gives you somebody you know you can find when you want to, somebody to debrief or be excited with.
14. Hang out in the lobby and people watch. You will be amazed at the (friendly!) faces you will put with names.
15. If you have business cards, bring a bunch; if you’re interested in reviewing either textbooks or professional books, introduce yourself to people at the booths, including the scholarly presses. Textbook reviews often are teacher/classroom based; scholarly presses, more on scholarship or a given issue. Be ready to talk about your areas of interest and experience why you’d want to review. But editors are always interested in hearing from people who care about books and media.
16. If you’re in on Wednesday, and are not in already in a workshop, visit the Research Network Forum — lots of graduate students there who are preparing research for publication, or to start a dissertation, meeting journal editors or hearing from others who have done the work. A great event to attend to get a sense of who your contemporaries are and what work is percolating through the field.
17. Go to at least one SIG that interests you.
18. Find a session with a topic that interests you, but that you haven’t read much on.
19. Don’t turn down the chance to have dinner or share a cab with people from other institutions. The more Cs I attend, the more I believe that networking is the most valuable aspect of our merry little gathering.
20. INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO ANYONE. 4Cs people, and WPA-L people in particular, are gracious, humble, and eager to do good in the world. Do not be intimidated by reputations. 99.97% of them do NOT see themselves as too important to talk to you, WHOEVER you are.
21. If you’re a grad student, assume that anyone you meet may be on a search committee interviewing you some day.
22. Water. Seconding Melissa, keep after your hydration, and by a water bottle to go with your power bars. Keep refilling your bottle.
23. Do Humor Night. Okay, okay, so I’m usually part of the CBB, and we gig there. So sue me. You need to see this. It will endear you to this conference and your discipline forever. Thursday, 8-10. Get an early start on the Bedfords party and then come on over.
24. SIGs. You will make more long-term connections in less time than at any other event. Yes, they are late, overlapping dinner and party time. You can do all that later in your career. SIGs will do more than anything else to ensure that you find ways of getting back here.
25. RNF. If you didn’t do it this year, get the info and do it next time. Peer review for scholarship. You can’t beat it. You can’t.
26. Go to the Newcomers’ Breakfast.
27. If you are at a publisher’s party or any other function where you see no one you know, but see someone else standing or sitting alone, go up and start a conversation with her or him. I’ve made some longstanding friends this way–anyone alone at these events (in my experience) is hoping for someone to talk with. I still do this, and I have learned a lot from these conversations.
28. Go to the Newcomers Think Tank for preparing proposals for next year.
29. Be sure to play C’s the Day, the annual conference game.
30. Don’t forget about social medial–tweet/blog/flickr/post to Facebook about what you see/attend/who you meet/etc. You can’t possibly attend every session, so you will want to read highlights of sessions.
31. Review sessions for Kairos. This is a terrific opportunity to get some peer reviewed publications and highlight sessions you attended that others didn’t (those who weren’t able to attend this year will really appreciate descriptive reviews of talks they wanted to go to and couldn’t attend).