Conferences are part and parcel of life as researchers. It's a stage for one to meet others in the same field, to create or build a network, a platform for one to showcase to the world of the new or improved 'discoveries' one has done. Alhamdulillah, APAC LSP Conference 2010 was spectacular. It generated new ideas and I learn a lot more, research wise as well as basic and core competencies as human beings.
Firstly, what I learn from the conference, I need to be genuinely interested in everyone I meet: always appreciate, acknowledge and never be judgmental when you meet a person. The 'ranks' of status in a plenary hall would consist of tremendously well-known professors (and pitifully, I was the only one who didn't recognise them, though I cited them in my EndNote) to the secretariat staff or even waitresses serving coffee and tea!
So, whenever I meet someone, I always need to find something good about them to compliment, i.e. their presentations, their latest book, their current research, the institutions they work with, their fantastic preparation for the conference, I can even compliment the waitress on the wonderfully hot thick coffee, etc.. This will help in building positive rapport with them in the future, insha Allah. As Prof Dr Muhaya Mohamad suggested in one of the interviews with MHI, "Make others like themselves a little bit more and they will like us forever'. I believe her.
Hence, I need to treat others better than I want to be treated, and that's my second lesson of the conference. I need to train my brain to be more skillful in remembering names. I am so thankful for name tags! I love it when others can come by and say 'Hello, Azza!' and not, 'Hi, ermm.. Ika, right?' It's a gift that I hope Allah can grant me, a better long- and short-term memories. I'm lacking of those, sadly. I learn that when I remember others' names and address them appropriately, it shows that they are genuinely respected. I want to apply this all the time, insha Allah, even to my students (and it'll be struggle to me, but I want them to feel appreciated).
Treat others better than I want to be treated - like the Queen! Hahah..
Thirdly, it is wise to be an interactive listener. Let others' talk about themselves and keep things about myself to myself until being asked.
Fourthly, do carry yourself confidently with a smile. Though attending a big conference alone might be a bit intimidating, always walk and sit with poise with a touch of smile, and trust me, the world will smile back at you!
Another point worth jotting is always find something good to comment and suggest after any presentations. It's important to train myself to be a good finder, not a fault finder.