It’s that time again, friends — we’re officially just a few days away from the 2019 CMAA World Conference! By now I would imagine you’ve registered, booked your flight, and bought dancing boots.
With those logistics out of the way, I wanted to offer a few additional tips in order to ensure this trip is equally as successful for your personal and professional growth, as it is exciting. Therefore, be sure to:
Schedule with Track Education. First and foremost, take the time to plan which educational sessions will provide the biggest return for your personal development and of course, your club. Track Education is a wonderful CMAA provided tool that makes organizing your schedule and desired sessions quick and simple.
Visit the Idea Fair. These sessions are invaluable. Swing by and check out what your peers are up to. It’s a great way to bring new events, programs, ideas, and tools back to your club.
Take notes. I repeat, take notes! This conference only comes around once a year and these experts have chosen to share advice freely. Their words of wisdom are backed by a lot of experience, so do yourself a favor and write down what they have to say. You won’t remember everything. And there’s no greater feeling than flipping back through your notes after a successful conference, having this wealth of knowledge literally at your fingertips, and turning those notes into actions.
Explore. And I don’t mean the Grand Ole Opry. While Nashville is beautiful, it’s important to make sure you explore in ways that are most efficient and valuable to you as a club leader. The best way to do this? Walk the Business Expo floor. The Expo provides an unmatched opportunity to set your sights on new products, services, and technologies. Socialize with vendors, ask questions, and thank them for supporting CMAA. You aren’t required to buy a thing and the knowledge they’ll provide is priceless.
Share Your Takeaways. When you get back home from Nashville, put a report together outlining 3-5 important takeaways for your Board’s reference. I believe it’s crucial to show your Board the advantages of going to conference. Don’t forget to share that report with your team, too. They stayed back and ran the club so that you could attend – and grow. Sharing your takeaways allows them to do the same.
Jump In With Both Feet. For you first-timers, soak up as much as you can. Talk to as many people as you can. Attend as many sessions as you can. Immerse yourself in these four days completely. You’ll only get out of it what you put into it – and there is so much to learn.
Drink a Lot of Coffee. While sessions are a wonderful asset, it’s equally as beneficial to talk to your peers on a more personal level. Attend the social events and make the effort to talk to fellow industry leaders one-on-one in a more informal setting. Whether this be over a cup of coffee, dinner, or outside on the streets of music city … these conversations can breed lasting relationships with like-minded and supportive individuals.
Focus on “Net-giving” Rather Than Networking. For those of you who have heard me speak or have read my work, you’re aware of my take on networking. For those who haven’t, I like to call it net-giving. Networking is the superficial aspect of conference. It involves trading business cards and formal introductions. Rather than participating in genuine conversation or offering advice, networking takes – but net-giving, gives. Give your time and attention to the people you meet next week. Share ideas and swap stories rather than business cards. And remember, you only get out of it what you put into it.
In my 30+ year’s of CMAA involvement, I have been fortunate enough to make many friends; some of which became mentors as well. I truly believe that there is no other industry or association that is more willing to give, lend a helping hand, or share thoughts and ideas to help set everyone up for success. We’re lucky to be a part of this industry — and I can’t wait to see so many familiar faces and meet a few new ones as well.
As a past president of CMAA (2012), please don’t hesitate to stop by and introduce yourself. I’m happy to help in any way that I can. Come say hi in booth #839!