Recently, I attended the Ucisa Support Services Conference 2015. This was my first Ucisa event. It was great to network with Service Desk Managers, Customer Service Managers, IT Directors, organisers, and event sponsors. The theme was ‘Change is the only constant’.

I knew that getting the most out of these events is dependant on what you put into them, so I was prepared to start networking. The more you network and get involved, the greater the experience and overall achievement.

As an ambassador for your organisation, as well as yourself, you have a responsibility to them and yourself to conduct yourself in a professional manner. Academia is such a small group of people, it is unwise to mark the reputations of either.

The participant list was available before the event, which allowed some time to investigate any organisations and participants of interest. In order to network, you need some conversation starters.

Armed with my conference badge, I made my way towards the coffee. Walking past many important people from their respective organisations, the humble SysAdmin could be excused for feeling a little shy. There’s an important balance between networking with your peers, as well as your colleagues, and it’s great to discuss new ideas with those you work with.

As the hotel was also the venue for the event, it was quick and easy to return to your room to drop things off and freshen up. It’s also a space where networking can’t continue, so keeping this time to a minimum is important. It can take a lot of willpower to get back out there, not knowing who may be around, before any arranged times to meet back with colleagues.

Networking can take many forms, including tweeting with the #ussc15 hashtag to preserve facts, quotes, and ideas. It’s also a great way to ask questions and show some interest in a particular subject. Twitter is also useful for putting names to faces, and faces to names and organisations.

After an excellent BBQ on the first day, we played the Ucisa version of Pointless. As well as being funny and entertaining, it was another icebreaker to help break down any remaining barriers.

After the excellent dinner and entertainment on the second day, I stayed up until 4am, using the time wisely to network. Many memorable conversations occurred when most others were asleep in bed. Never pass up an opportunity to talk with the other participants, as that opportunity may not come up again.

I’m really looking forward to the Ucisa Support Services Conference next year!

Website: https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/ssg/Events/2015/ss15.aspx

Watch the presentations: http://ucisa.mediasite.com/mediasite/Catalog/catalogs/ss15

Twitter Hashtag: #ussc15