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Don't Forget the New Neighbors: Reaching Out to Local Professionals

by Thomas Baldwin
Senior Manager, Conferences - Promotion and Communications - IEEE Computer Society

Most technical conferences often move their venue (location) either annually or every few years. This increases their exposure to a larger cross-section of the professional community by visiting major cities with technology businesses important to their fields of interest. Other conferences like to travel around the world, offering their attendees the chance to visit beautiful and exotic locations, along with the opportunity to interact with professionals from different cultures who can put forward unique perspectives.

No matter the motivation for moving a conference, the end result is exposure to new sources of attendees and volunteers. As soon as a new venue is approved, conferences should begin the process of reaching out to the local community.
Here are some benefits of engaging the local community:


Bringing about a large annual, international technical conference is an extremely complex activity. It’s much like launching a start-up tech business, and it takes a strong team of volunteers to do it right. This often means these teams travel with a conference and are focused on what needs to be accomplished to get the job done without thinking about the benefits to be gained by bringing in some fresh volunteers from the local community.

This doesn’t mean they don’t value the contribution of local volunteers. If a conference is coming to your community, and if you are interested in getting involved, reach out to them, or contact the CS staff. Qualified volunteers willing to contribute their time don’t get turned away.

  • Local professionals will help effectively spread the news about the conference, connecting the conference to companies and institutions that will increase local attendance.
  • Industry sources might be interested in sponsoring functions (coffee breaks, lunches, lanyards, etc.)
  • Regional volunteers can help with local on-site arrangements and planning that might otherwise be difficult from a remote location.
  • Local volunteers can help you understand cultural differences that could impact event planning.
  • They can help bring local flavor to the event.
  • Local students are often willing to help work the conference as part of their leadership training and exposure to industry and academic professionals.
  • This is a two-way street: conference speakers can gain more exposure by participating in the Computer Society's Member Visitor Program (MVP), giving invited talks at CS chapter functions which in turn helps promote conferences use the chapter’s marketing channels more effectively.
And, there is no better way to engage the regional community then by contacting local CS volunteers through the CS chapters, clubs & sections. The Computer Society has over 300 chapters & clubs, national and international, professional and student.
Conferences can get in touch with local CS chapters & clubs through our network listings at http://www.computer.org/portal/web/chapters. Local CS chapters will likely have qualified sources for volunteers with personal motivation to support the conference, and the chapters can then help involve IEEE Section volunteers, too.

Chapters offer the opportunity for Computer Society members in local areas to network with colleagues, develop activities for professional development, and share expertise through technical exchange. If you haven’t looked into local chapter and club activities near you, please take a few moments to check them out.

Additional Resources:

Member and Geographic Activities Board


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