On This Page:
Would you like to connect with fellow GIS students and professionals? Are you interested in learning from GIS experts that are established in the field?
Start by taking advantage of the many GIS networking opportunities available to you! The ability to make professional connections has changed with the development of technology, and you now have access to free meetups and online communities in addition to established professional associations and large conferences.
In this guide, we highlight some of the best places to network in GIS: associations, communities, conferences, and meetups. Each will allow you to connect with fellow GIS professionals, expand your network, and promote career growth.
American Association of Geographers
The AAG is a worldwide community of geographers that has been around for over 100 years. The association is focused on advancing geography across numerous disciplines. There are many groups within the AAG, based on location, industry, social issue, and more.
American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
ASPRS is a scientific association focused on GIS with the application of photogrammetry and remote sensing. The organization comprises seven divisions; GIS, Lidar, Photogrammetric Applications, Primary Data, Professional Practice, Remote Sensing, and Unmanned Autonomous Systems. The ASPRS is an excellent association for people interested in collecting and analyzing aerial imagery and data.
Geospatial Information & Technology Association
The GITA community has changed in recent years to being membership-based but continues to support GIS and geography through their scholarships, education programs, and mentorship opportunities.
National Council for Geographic Education
The Council is a supporter of geographic education and promotes professional development, publishing in geographic journals, distributing resources, and honoring teachers. The NCGE supports educators and advocates for geography in school at their annual conference.
International Cartographic Association
If you are a student or young professional with geography aspirations, the ICA supports people like you with their $1,000 scholarship. The ICA promotes and supports geography on a global scale with members and events from all around the world.
GIS conferences are an excellent opportunity for growth as a GIS professional. They bring together the private and public sectors as well as the academic community. Many conferences provide opportunities for further learning, exploring new developments in GIS technology and connecting with professionals in a range of industries.
Here are a few conferences we recommend attending, if given the chance:
ESRI User Conference
The San Diego-based UC brings over 15,000 GIS and other spatial professionals together, making it the world’s largest GIS conference. The week-long event features a plenary hosted by Jack Dangermond (ESRI’s CEO), an exhibitors’ hall, technical sessions, training opportunities, networking happy hours, and even a 5K race. This event should be on every GIS professional’s bucket list.
ESRI Industry Specific Conferences
ESRI is a global leader in GIS software and geospatial-based conferences focused on different industries and disciplines, with locations in the US and Europe. Here is a short list of different conferences:
- Developer Summit
- European Resources GIS Conference
- Federal GIS Conference
- Imagery and Remote Sensing Educators Summit
- Rail Summit
Commercial UAV Expo
If you are interested in GIS and drones, this is the conference for you. The UAV Expo brings together a collection of regulators, the latest technology, and industry professionals to Las Vegas every September.
National Council for Geographic Education Conference
The NCGE Education Conference brings together educators from K-12 as well as college and university faculty. Sessions focus on geographic education and how to incorporate the latest geography tools and ideas into curriculum.
International Cartographic Conference
The International Cartographic Association organizes this conference every two years in global locations. They discuss new mapping and geospatial information science and data management.
The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association Conference is a three-day event that offers workshops, keynote speakers from leading industries, technical sessions, and an exhibition showcasing GIS work. URISA offers a number of different conferences throughout the year.
The GEOINT Symposium presented by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) promotes geospatial intelligence in government, academia, and private enterprises. The focus is on cutting-edge technology related to GIS, including 3D, the metaverse, generative AI, and machine learning.
GIS Certification Institute
The Institute focuses on certifying professionals as experts in the field of GIS. Upon passing the exam, the GISCI will certify you as a GIS Professional (GISP). The exam covers many of the foundations and fundamentals of GIS including analysis, data acquisition, and application development. Earning this certification may increase your career potential, especially in the private sector.
ESRI Young Professionals Network
The YPN is a community that supports the GIS path of young professionals and students in the field. Their goal is to promote career growth, enhancing participant’s network of industry experts and developing leadership skills.
There are many GIS-focused online communities. These communities are great places to collaborate with others, get questions answered, and learn about the GIS industry.
Reddit GIS Community
The GIS community on Reddit is an active community and one of the largest, with over 89,000 members. You’ll find a variety of posts including technical questions, job listings, advise posts, and the occasional geospatial meme.
Stack Exchange GIS Community
This community has a GIS-focused company that has received over 150,000 questions. The requests here range from simple questions to complex algorithm and ModelBuilder-related problems. When searching the internet, you’ll frequently be led to Stack Exchange for solutions to your GIS software questions.
Stack Overflow is known as a place for developers to collaborate and help one another. Questions are asked daily with common GIS-focused tags like “GIS,” “ArcPro,” and “QGIS.” This community is great for GIS software developers.
ESRI has a large online community that focuses on ESRI’s suite of software and tools. Users collaborate on user submitted questions, software updates, and feature requests. ESRI employees are regular contributors to the community, so you can count on getting the best information.
In-person meetups are popular, casual environments to discuss GIS and connect with professionals in the industry.
Meetup GIS Groups
Meetup offers local GIS groups across the country focusing on different disciplines and industries including utilities, drones, and GIS programming.
URISA Regional Chapters
The URISA organization has regional chapters located around the United States. These chapter groups host in-person gatherings monthly or quarterly with themed meetings.
Networking as a student or young professional is a smart approach to growing your career. Joining an association or attending a conference that captures your interest will connect you with experts in fields you want to pursue and set you up for a wonderful career in an ever-changing field. Growing your connections in the industry improves your chances of landing jobs, increases your knowledge, and encourages leadership development.