Making the Most of a Conference

The NFPW conference registration is open. If you’re attending conference this year, what are you doing to get ready? Here are a few tips:

1)      Bring plenty of business cards and then make a point to network with members whom you don’t know. If possible, reach out to first-timers and provide them with tips. When you do meet someone and exchange business cards, make a note on the back of the person’s card so you’ll recall the encounter and have a reason for following up.

2)      Plan to follow-up with everyone you meet. That’s the point of networking. Better yet, connect with your fellow members through LinkedIn. It’s a great way to share what you’re doing professionally throughout the year and learn what others are doing. You might want to bring your smartphone, iPad or netbook to keep your social connections up-to-date.


Taking notes is a good way to remember key points to share with others after the session.

3)      Take time to review the conference sessions and highlight the sessions you want to attend. You don’t want to miss any because you overlooked a session in the program. Again, sit by someone you don’t know. Talk with her after the session to see what she thought. What was the key take away? It’s a great conversation starter and an even better way to recall the session later.

4)      Visit the contest display and read what the judges wrote. You can find out what makes a winning entry. I also get ideas for stories and projects when I review the entries. And if you’re a winner, celebrate knowing that you competed with the best and you won!

5)      Finally, allow some time to explore the region. If you have the time and resources, I would encourage you to sign up for the pre- or post-tour (or both). Our members know what’s worth seeing so you’ll get a great look at another part of the country. If you plan to explore on your own, visit the websites now so you can find out what to see and do.

I always make a list of follow-up items while I’m at the conference. As soon as I return to the office I give myself a week to complete the follow-up items. If I wait longer, they don’t get done.  This, of course, means I must go buy a pretty notebook to use at the conference for note taking and list making.

I hope to see you at the conference. Now, I’ve got to run and purchase my notebook – and maybe a nice pen to go with it.

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