How to Convention Like a Champ: Advice from Past Participants

What's your NAA17 Convention strategy? How are you going to get the most out of your Convention experience? We asked some of our long-time NAA Convention participants to share their best Convention advice. Here is what they said:

Jamie Garcia | Extend-A-Care for Kids

Network with a purpose! Decide on at least 4 or 5 challenges you are having at your program—and when you meet someone, ask them a question that could help you gather ideas and solutions. Use a different one per workshop, or change it up per day. When you return home, you could have 10 ideas for every challenge you are struggling with at your program.

Use the Event App in advance. Pick out your top two sessions per workshop block. Some fill up fast, so arrive early. The app will give you free handouts to each session that can be taken back to your program and used to teach others.

Stacy Litteral | Executive Director, Kids' Country

Plan ahead. Set one or two main objectives for your time at the convention. Use the app and read the program book ahead of time, to assist you with planning your days according to your objectives.

Be open to networking as much as possible. Don't be afraid to chat with anyone you have the opportunity to meet. Who knows? A great collaboration could be born!

Julia Gabor | Director of Education, WRiTE BRAiN Books

Always represent your organization with pride and share your best practices. Maybe someone will share his or hers with you!

Speak up in sessions and ask questions—that's why you're here!

Tracey Lay | Director, School Age Programs & Development Services, EDUCATION CONNECTION

I highly recommend making the most of "networking" with colleagues from across the country. It is such a fantastic opportunity to share and learn from each other. It also helps to realize we are not alone and are true professionals united to improve and grow our field. This experience can be invaluable!

Erika Petrelli | Senior VP of Leadership Development at The Leadership Program

In short: Don't be shy. If you are with colleagues, resist the urge to stick together like a pack. If you are by yourself, resist the urge to stay that way. Mingle in the exhibit hall, attend the networking opportunities, sit with new people during lunches and keynotes, start conversations at workshops (rather than sitting in the back row closest to the door). Some of the best connections happen in these impromptu moments of engagement. Step out of your comfort zone and into POSSIBILITY!

Daniel W. Hatcher | National Out-of-School Advisor, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Use Twitter! It doesn't matter if you don't have an account yet or feel like you're a social media beginner: Sign up and follow the #NAA17 conference hashtag. If there are two sessions I want to attend, I pick one and follow the other via Twitter. Look up the speaker's Twitter handle and see if they're tweeting their session. If you're shy at networking, connecting with other attendees on Twitter first can help break the ice. Have colleagues who can't make it? Encourage them to follow the hashtag and be a part of the convo from a distance.

P.S. Don't forget to say hi to me: @hatchdw

We hope these suggested strategies help you make the most of your NAA17 Convention experience!

Photo courtesy of of Chris Zarconi Photography.


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