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The American Association of Law Libraries convention exhibit hall is a great best place to network, meet new people and reconnect with old friends. But it takes discipline and stamina to get the best value out of your meeting time! Here are some tips: 1. To meet with as many vendors as possible, without a lot of walking, it’s most efficient to just go up and down the aisles in order. (Tip to vendors: Carpeting makes a big difference. The more comfortable the setting, the longer we will stay.) 2. The tech centers, Internet cafe and snack areas are great places to meet people, including representatives from other companies. It’s always great to sit down! 3. Vendors: Hand-outs do pay off, and good ones keep your company in our minds. For example, West Group outdid themselves at last year’s show in Minneapolis with a computer bag on wheels. It made navigating the exhibit hall a breeze. 4. Don’t expect to have enough time to look at all the demonstrations of software and online databases. At each demo I take notes, and then when I get home, I go online and review what I learned (or ask my local representative for more instruction). 5. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Think year to year: In 2001, portal technology, intranets and extranets were some of the hot topics. This year, I’m going to look for seminars and exhibits that will increase my knowledge in these areas. Last year’s experiences can help you better coordinate your visits to the exhibit hall and attendance at programs this year. 6. Vendors should point out the not-so-obvious applications of their products. For example, court filings can be used for more than locating docket sheets and ordering documents: they also are useful for competitive intelligence, building business, helping clients and due diligence. 7. It is impossible to keep up with all the changes, especially in technology. AALL’s programs and exhibit hall give us the chance to view products, talk with colleagues and make connections that we can’t get anywhere else. Be sure your administrators are aware of the value of your attendance at conferences and your participation in AALL. Write up a report; document your successes. Ruth Balkin is C.E.O. of Balkin Library and Information Services in Rochester, N.Y. She can be reached at [email protected]. More information about the 95th annual AALL conference, being held July 20-24 in Orlando, Fla., can be found at www.aallnet.org/events.

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