You can use an ecological society conference for professional networking purposes. Indeed, one of the major reasons as to why people attend these sorts of conferences is that they provide perfect opportunities for professional networking.
Take the example of someone who studied ecology at college, but is yet to find a job in this field. It would make a great deal of sense for such a person to attend an ecological society conference, in order to network with other individuals who are already working in the field. This is pretty much the only way in which this sort of person can get to know where potential job openings are. Then he would be empowered to prepare for such opportunities.
You may fear that going to an ecological society conference with the sole intention of networking is too opportunistic and ‘uncultured’. But you need to dispel such fears. As you are bound to realize once you get to the conference, there will be lots of other people who, like you, would be attending the conference mainly with professional networking in mind.
Of course, you mustn’t go overboard while trying to network at an ecological society conference. For instance, you mustn’t start trying to chat people up while the conference sessions are ongoing. On the contrary, you need to pay attention to the discussions that are held within the conference sessions. It is only after the conference sessions, during the periods when people are given an opportunity to relax, that you should try to network with folks.
Ideally, you should try to get the people you are already acquainted with to introduce you to other folks. Thus, for instance, if you spot someone you went to college with at the conference, you can walk up to him, greet him, and have a chat with him. Other folks he may be sitting with would then develop an interest in being introduced to you. And that is how your network would end up growing – for once you are introduced to them, they in turn become your acquaintances. From there onwards, you can comfortably discuss upcoming professional opportunities with them.