Since my last official day at the NACDA Convention was Wednesday, I returned home on Thursday afternoon and was back in the office today! Spending the past week in Orlando with awesome colleagues was great, but it's back to reality for me.
As the convention came to an end, I couldn't help but think about how I would do some things differently if I could go back and do the whole convention over. Here's what I came up with:
Pack less. I didn't heed Olivia's advice leading up to the convention and I over-packed my bags WAY more than I should have. Classic Katie move! Next year, I will plan out my outfits in advance so that I don't bring 15 shirts… and no, that's not an exaggeration. Do I regret bringing 15 shirts? You bet. Lesson learned? Definitely.
Set up meetings beforehand. Not only was I unable to meet with multiple people that I had hoped to see during the convention, but I missed some of the sessions that I was planning on attending because I was scrambling to set up some meetings at the last minute. Huge bummer no matter how I look at it.
Plan out work needs. So the convention took place during the Major League Baseball Draft… And I'm the baseball SID! While I had no idea that our 11 draft picks would lead the country and set a program record, I should still have been better prepared for the draft overall. Instead, I missed a bunch of sessions on Wednesday because I was doing draft coverage.
Recover better. I brought about five pairs of workout clothes but the only time I worked out was when I ran the CoSIDA 5K on Tuesday. I was really tired and lethargic throughout the week, and I know that's because I wasn't treating my body right. Next time, I will do better about waking up earlier in the morning and getting my workout in before the day begins.
Exchange business cards. I had SO MANY conversations with people I met during the week and unfortunately, I walked away with just ONE business card. If I could go back, I would exchange a business card with every person that I met… And write down exactly what we talked about and when! I have a really terrible memory - especially when it comes to names - so I think having a card with a few notes would help me to put names with faces and make better connections.
Write thank you notes every day. I'm sure Olivia will get more into this on Monday in our next post, but I realize now that writing my thank you notes throughout the conference would have been a lot easier (and better!) than waiting until the end to do them all at once. I now have a whole stack of notes to write when I could already be done and have them mailed out.
With baseball season ending just one week before the convention again, I was really scrambling to get ready for this conference. However, it's clear to me now that I should have prepared more upfront to be more effective during the convention. I had a great time at NACDA, but I know that I would have had an even better experience if I had planned better. The good news is that there will be more opportunities to perfect my planning and I’m already looking forward to next year’s convention!