Add randomness to your EA conferences

post by Vaidehi Agarwalla (vaidehi_agarwalla) · 2022-03-04T21:09:19.484Z · EA · GW · 1 comments

Contents

  Randomness in practice
    Physical Events
    Virtual Events
    Examples
None
1 comment

TL;DR: Build in time for random spontaneous interactions with people at EA conferences!

There is a [EA · GW] lot [EA · GW] of [EA · GW] great [EA · GW] advice [EA · GW] on how to strategically network during EA Globals - and I think it's great to encourage people to be very intentional and goal-oriented with what they get out of the conference. However, I also think that deliberate randomness is also quite valuable (although higher variance).

The chances that I'll randomly meet  cool and interesting people at an EA Global is really, really high. What's more, my deliberate attempts to connect with people will heavily bias me towards :

  1. People
    1. I already know
    2. Who generally share my interests or worldview
    3. Who fill out their conference profiles or are otherwise 'legible'
    4. Who already know (of) me
  2. "Shop talk"
  3. 1-1 interactions (aside from workshops, most interactive EA events like professional or affiliation meetups tend to do 1-1 speed networking sessions)

I find unstructured interactions without any expectations fun and enjoyable and a less intense than back to back 1-1s. I try to budget about 20-30% of each EA conference (sometimes more) for random interactions.

Randomness in practice

I find joining a group of people talking to be an inherently awkward experience. Luckily there are lots of ways EA conferences provide assisted serendipity

Physical Events

Virtual Events

In general, it's harder to have random interactions at virtual events. However, it could still be worth trying! Other than attending networking events, one strategy could be to randomly choose people on the networking app, say hi and let them know that you're trying to meet counterfactually new people. I expect this approach will be much higher variance / more time intensive than the physical counterpart but could be interesting!

Examples

(These are mostly personal examples because I didn't spend too long asking others - if anyone else has some examples, please comment or DM me and I'll add them here! )

1 comments

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comment by Miranda_Zhang (starmz12345@gmail.com) · 2022-03-11T03:20:56.599Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I appreciated this - I think being more intentional is really good but there are up/downsides to being more serendipitous, too. Plus, law of opposite and equal advice and all.

I'm guessing this probably depends a bit on an attendee's state and goals - e.g., if someone is feeling a bit drained or has 'achieved' their goal, it might be worth being more open to randomness.