How many NACA Conventions have you been to? I get asked that question a lot. This may be due to the fact that I am wise beyond my years but my guess is that the gray hair and receding hairline have something to do with it. Perhaps, it is the fact that there are a lot of people there that seem to know me. Regardless of the reason, my stock answer is usually something along the lines of “too many”. My first NACA conference was 1979 and my first National Convention was 1980 in Washington DC. Etta James and Lonnie Brooks showcased and they were amazing.
No matter how many conferences and conventions I have been to over the years I have learned a lot. I wish I had faith that more people read this before hopping on a plane or getting in a car but I am not overly optimistic. Here are some of the nuggets I have taken away:
Before you leave campus:
1. Look at the Educational selections and choose wisely. Look at both the subject matter and the presenter. Don’t just select something because the topic worked well with the theme.
2. Make sure to look at who is showcasing and review their tapes with your entire group, board or committee. Decide who are the people you most want to see and who are most likely to be brought to campus.
3. Remember, booking on site can get you some huge discounts.
4. Pack wisely – comfortable shoes are a must.
5. Review the schedule of the convention.
6. Go over your calendar and identify program needs that you have.
7. Stock up on business cards or stickers that have information about your board.
8. Come up with a strategy on how to approach CAMP.
9. Send e-mails to associates that you want to connect with and let them know which CAMP you are going to try and stop by the booth.
10. Discuss how you are going to handle the collection of promotional materials so you don’t get a lot of the same information from the same companies.
11. Plan out your meals and how much you can afford to spend each day.
12. Get some additional rest.
When you get on site:
1. Get the lay of the land. Figure out the best route to the CAMP, showcases and educational sessions
2. Get outside every day.
3. Try and get some exercise, even if it is just a brisk walk every day.
4. Be respectful – you represent your school, your organization but mostly yourself.
5. Go to as much as you can – CAMP, showcases and educational sessions.
6. Drink lots of water. Keep hydrated.
7. Get plenty of rest.
8. Network with people from other schools.
9. Use the marketplace time wisely and effectively.
10. Meet new people.
11. Get outside your comfort zone.
12. Visit all of the booths in CAMP.
13. Use social media responsibly and respectfully.
14. Do business – that can mean anything from getting to know a new associate to booking a show or shows.
15. Smile and look like you want to be there.
16. BE HONEST – if you are not interested in something let the person you are speaking with know that.
17. Let people know how and when you would like to be contacted.
18. HAVE FUN!!!!
When you get back:
1. Pass on to others what you saw, liked or didn’t like.
2. Set up a system to respond to calls and e-mails from associates.
3. Try something new and different that you learned.
4. Encourage others to apply or budget to go next year.
5. Follow up with people that you agreed to follow up with.
6. Perhaps write a blog about your experiences in The Twin Cities.
It doesn’t matter how many of these you go to they are all different and all exciting.
See you in Minnesota,