19 January 2015

Top 3 Things to Do before a Genealogy Conference (Tuesday's Tip)

Image by 89studio, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
To get the most out of a genealogy conference, there are three things you should do in advance.

If you are going to Rootstech, or Who Do You Think You Are? Live, or any other family history conference, do these now!

1.  Order your Contact Cards

Contact cards are a personal version of a business card. Give them to conference delegates who share your interest in a surname, locality or project, and use them to publicise your Web site, online family tree, genealogy blog or social media pages.

I order my cards from Vistaprint. Depending on what discounts are available and whether you choose 'Starter Business Cards' or 'Premium Business Cards', the cost of 250 cards is usually between $8 and $28. That's a great price for good quality cards, which you create by entering text into an online template. When you are happy with your design, submit the order, pay with either BPay, PayPal, VISA or Mastercard, and watch for the package to arrive by post.

Before you design your contact cards, consider what details you want to include. You won't be able to fit all of these, so make a list in order of importance to you.
  • Your name is essential, of course.
  • Your email address that will be valid long-term if you leave your current service provider. (The best option may be a free Gmail address from Google).
  • Your postal address (or at least your State and country).
  • Your Web site URL.
  • Your blog URL.
  • URL of your public online family tree - but check that it really is public and not locked away behind a pay wall on a subscription site.
  • Your social media URLs (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc).
  • Short list of surnames that you're researching, especially any unusual names. (Putting these on the back of the card costs a few extra dollars.)
  • Phone number (but if you list this, mention your time zone compared to Greenwich Mean Time).

I created this contact card with Vistaprint, and 250 of these only cost $7.99.

2.  Submit your research interests

Some conferences allow you to register your research interests, which are then published or displayed at the event. It's amazing how often a delegate finds someone else who is interested in the same family!

Use a spreadsheet to prepare each of your entries for easy cut-and-paste:
  1. Name/s (either surname only or with the family name first, eg, 'PEACOCK, Jonathan')
  2. Location (remember to specify the country)
  3. Time period
  4. Extra details.

3.  Plan what to take and what to do

There are lots of great tips in:
  1. Prepare Before Attending a Genealogy Conference (by Sue Maxwell).

  2. Rock Star's Guide to Genealogy Conferences (by Amy Coffin).

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2015/01/top-3-things-to-do-before-genealogy.html.)


  1. I like your card Judy, I think it's a new version? Great reminder about submitting research interests for Congress I haven't done that yet.

  2. Thanks for the tip on cards -- I ordered mine last night!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Elise. Enjoy your conferences!

  3. I've been to several genealogy conference, and I love your idea about contact cards! I'm going to put something together tonight for our annual spring conference here in Fairfax, Virginia. Thank you!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

    1. Theresa, I'm sure you'll have as much fun as I did designing the contact cards. As I said, if you order them via this link - http://bit.ly/vpbuscard, the commission goes to charity. Enjoy your conference!

  4. Great post Judy. Should have read it before I ordered my cards...sigh. Never mind. I'm excited about them and think they won't be too bad.

    1. Alex, I'll look forward to swapping contact cards with you. :-)

  5. In Evernote for Conferences, Carmel Galvin has shared an Evernote notebook that can be adapted for use at other conferences.


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