I’m a few hours away from flying to Dallas for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention. It might be the best networking opportunity I’ve ever had, as a number of affiliated organizations hold their convention in the same place, such as NACMA (National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators) and CABMA (Collegiate Athletic Business Manager Association). I anticipate it will be 6 days worth of meeting a huge cross section of collegiate athletic administrators. I can’t wait!
Even more so than most conferences I attend, this one has the potential to be overwhelming without appropriate planning. You might be fooled into thinking with that many people in attendance that you could just show up and you would be bound to run into someone. However, any event with that many people and that many sessions actually produces the opposite effect. You can spend six days just wandering and never being in the right place at the right time if you’re not careful. It’s also incredibly easy to burn out by day 3 and decide to spend the rest of the conference in your hotel room.
In my Conference Advice section, I give advice from pre-planning to how to network at the events to how to follow up with the people you meet. These are all things I’ve been doing since I was a student. Anyone can do them. Your position and experience might get you more positive results, but anyone can attempt to follow all of my advice.
I’ve followed my own pre-conference advice for NACDA. I’ve made sure I had plenty of business cards and I’ve packed them. I’ve been emailing college athletic administrators for weeks to set up meetings. I’ve lined up meetings with both old acquaintances and people I’d like to get to know. In addition, because some college athletics administrators follow me on Twitter, I’ve talked about attending NACDA a lot on Twitter. This has allowed people to get in touch with me if they want to meet.
All of this means I have a very full schedule for NACDA. I have firm meetings in place every single day. I’ve booked out all my breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even happy hours. But, I’ve also left time in my schedule in case I meet someone new and want to spend time with them. I’ve left time to just decompress and take it all in so I don’t burn out. And I’ve packed lots of protein bars – vital!
Planning for conferences is absolutely essential if you want to make the most of the abundant networking opportunities they provide. Let me know if you have any questions I haven’t covered in the Conference Advice section!