Hi friends! With all of the fun stuff going on this weekend in Orlando at the NACDA and affiliates convention, Olivia Coiro and I thought it would be fun to do a post each day during our trip that focuses on some takeaways that would be good for our readers, regardless of their convention attendance or affiliation.
With Sunday night activities and a full day of Monday programming in the books, here is the advice I’d like to share with you at this point in the week.
Enjoy time with your staff.
A few of my coworkers are attending this convention for the first time, and I asked one of them today how he was enjoying the trip so far. He responded by saying that he was enjoying being with everyone, to which I agreed and said how great it was for me to see people I've worked with in the past. He then responded by saying he meant he was enjoying being with our staff, because he doesn't get to do that too often. I laughed a little and said I was happy to hear that, but it really struck a chord with me. I was so excited to see all the people I've missed throughout the year that I really hadn't thought about this trip as an opportunity to bond with my coworkers. The thought itself made me reflect on the past 24 hours of traveling with the staff, checking in, and getting situated, and it made me smile. I had already made so many new memories with the people I see almost everyday, and the week was just beginning.
If you're here alone as a recent grad, a job seeker, or just traveling solo, enjoy the networking opportunities.
No matter how extroverted or friendly a person may be, networking is extremely difficult and often exhausting, because it doesn't happen overnight. But if you go about it with an open mind and a positive attitude, you will quickly and easily meet new people. As an introverted person, I find attending networking sessions to be both physically and mentally taxing, but I've met so many incredible people at the NACDA Convention over the last few years that I can tell you it's worth your time and energy. Just remember: not everyone you meet will be a vital part of your career path, but it's important to remember that every person you meet could be.
I attended my first convention when I was a senior in college, and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from the trip. When I arrived, I was surprised at the number of networking receptions there were, and even though I normally don't drink alcohol, I wanted to blend in. The first reception I attended allowed everyone to have two beer and wine drink tickets, so I took my tickets in stride and walked around with a beer looking to make new friends. The problem was that I absolutely hate the taste of beer, so I was uncomfortable the entire night as I walked around the room trying to mingle. I realize I'm probably in the small percentage of people who don't drink alcohol, but that's not the point here. The point is to be yourself. If you don't feel comfortable drinking, don't! The same goes for wearing uncomfortable shoes or anything that makes you uncomfortable beyond the limits of professional development. Conventions are a great time for personal growth, but you need to stay true to yourself.
Be open to learning.
The truth is that none of these sessions will have the answers to everything. There are no ground-breaking developments or new technologies being debuted at the 2017 NACDA Convention, but there are great panels and sessions being put on to help you grow and provide perspective. In my opinion, the best part of the sessions and panels is hearing about others’ ideas and experiences, then seeing if they can be applied to your specific situation or institution. If so, that's great! If not, then you've just spent some time gaining a different perspective on how colleagues in this profession think or do things. Regardless of whether or not you implement anything you've learned, you've still learned.
The week is still young and there is plenty of time left to make the most of this convention, but I think it's safe to say that some of this advice extends far beyond the reach of NACDA. I'm really looking forward to seeing old and new faces this week, but if you aren't attending, catch up with Olivia and and me on Twitter! We'd love to keep you updated on all that you're missing :)