Academic conferences can seem like a strange place for those of us in the alt-ac world. Conferences may not feel like a good fit for freelance academics – as freelancers, we’re not affiliated with mainstream higher education. But academic conferences offer a place to meet and pitch your book to editors, offer a workshop, and present a research paper. Even as a freelance academic, you have a voice as a scholar and expert.
Leverage Your Talents
Independent scholars have untapped talents that can help any organization. For example, you can join an organization as a mentor and attend social events (meet-and-greets, annual celebrations, award ceremonies).
You can volunteer to chair committees and share your expertise with other scholars. While you may not like the idea of volunteering, use your social media skills to write blogs about the conference.
As an alt-ac, you will have a fresh eye on the conference and provide insights that traditional academics can miss. Find ways to leverage your talents.
Save Money and Time
Most academic conferences have a registration fee. Expenses can add up when you included costs for travel, hotel and food. Find a good reason to go to a conference. Don’t go broke just to attend a conference. If you can’t afford to go, don’t go.
Look for events that have an option for Skype or some kind of virtual participation.A virtual conference can save you time and money and some include chat rooms and community spaces for academics to interact.
A virtual meet-and-greet can be as valuable as any face-to-face events.
Value Your Scholarship
I’m in the process of submitting a proposal to a conference on urban food systems. It’s a collaborative project with two colleagues. One is an expert in community health and the other is studying nutrition in elderly rural populations.
Two of us are freelance academics, and one is a faculty member in health services administration. Our presentation will highlight our research across various disciplines: food policy, nursing and health services.
Our presentation will be a tool to establish our expertise. You don’t have to be an academic to understand the value of scholarship.
Your freelancing skills can be useful at academic conferences, webinars, and in social media. Be creative and stay engaged in sharing your scholarly ideas.
The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people.