It's always exciting the weeks before a genealogy conference. Bloggers start posting about conference activities. Announcements are made about speakers, vendors, and even prizes. The conference organizers promote all the great things that are scheduled.
But, what if you can't go?
For some, the excitement about an upcoming conference can be a source of disappointment because they are not able to go. There are lots of reasons that stop a person from attending. Obviously, finances might play a part. Maybe you are the sole caretaker for younger or older family members. Maybe your health stops you from traveling. Or you may lack resources.
First, know that we have all been there. So even though you may be hearing a lot about a conference, it doesn't mean that everyone can attend. And even when you can't attend, there are ways to participate.
1. Follow Social Media: Conference attendees, organizers, staff and volunteers take to social media in the weeks before, during and right after a conference. Follow social media outlets to see what those who are attending/volunteering/organizing are talking about. On Twitter, follow the #FGS2011 hashtag for posts about the FGS conference. On Facebook, you can follow FGS on their page or on the FGS Conference page .
2. Follow the Blogs: FGS is one of the conferences that has picked Official Bloggers to help keep readers in the loop about conference events. The Official Bloggers for the conference are:
Amy Coffin from We Tree
Schelly Talalay Dardashti from Tracing the Tribe
Dear Myrtle from Dear Myrtle
Dick Eastman from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Jennifer Holik from Generations
Linda McCauley from Documenting the Details
Caroline Pointer from Family Stories
Randy Seaver from Genea-Musings
Ginger Smith from Genealogy by Ginger's Blog
In addition to the Official Bloggers, you can also read the FGS Voice Blog and the FGS Conference News Blog . All of these blogs provide you with an opportunity to learn more prior to and during the conference. Also, look for recap postings after the conference from Official Bloggers and from those who attended. You can do a Google Blog Search for the words "FGS Conference" to find additional blog postings.
3. Take the Conference with you: Typically, with a conference there is some recording of conference sessions. These CDs or audio files can be purchased at the conference or even afterwards from the vendor who provided the service. I don't know if the FGS conference is being recorded but if it is I will post that information.
I can tell you that I use these recording as continuing education. I listen to them at the gym, on long trips and anytime I have some quiet time. I also listen to them multiple times. These recording are a great way to learn something new, review what you heard in person and advance your genealogical education. Even if you buy all of the recordings that were done at a conference, it is still less expensive than attending. So consider budgeting for that.
4. Plan for Next Year: The FGS conference is yearly, start planning now to attend next year. With 12 months until the next conference you can work on finances, clearing your calendar and arranging for someone to take care of family members or even bring them with you. (Those who know me often see my kids trailing behind me.) I have written before on this blog and also in an article for Internet Genealogy about saving money so you can do more genealogy. And I mean it. Yes, I use coupons, specials and discounts so that I can save money and go to conferences. Save money now to store away but also consider ways to save during the conference like finding a roommate, shopping for travel deals, etc. Start now, it's always great to have something to look forward to.