NIRSA 2016 is fast approaching. Three weeks to be exact. As someone who has frequented a few tradeshows before, I know they can be a bit overwhelming. With all the vendors, booths, educational seminars, meetings and social events, there is so much to do and so little time. To help, here are a few tips for navigating a tradeshow.
- Have a game plan — Before the show, it is crucial to develop a schedule. While you may not be able to map out every hour, have a rough outline of everything you want to see, everyone you want to meet and all the sessions you want to attend. Some things may overlap and you may not be able to do everything that you want to, so it is also important to prioritize.
- Focus on quality not quantity — While it may be tempting to set up as many meetings as possible, attend as many sessions as possible, it is important to be realistic. You don’t have unlimited time and it is essential to get to most out of every meeting. You don’t want to be rushing from place to place, not fully paying attention because you are worried about staying on schedule. Again, this is where prioritizing comes into play. What are the things you are going to get the most out of and that will provide the most benefit to you? Focus on the highest quality items, rather than quantity.
- Take advantage of educational opportunities — With sessions on almost any topic, ranging from intramural sports, aquatics, revenue generation, risk management and facility planning, to professional development, equity and student learning outcomes, there are a plethora of opportunities to learn something new that your recreation center could benefit from. Even if you only have time to attend a few, look at the schedule and pick out a session that caters to exactly what you need.
- Build relationships — This is an amazing time to connect with colleagues and others in the industry. Make sure to schedule time for networking. Do you need any advice on a particular topic? Think of any questions you have that others may be able to help you with. There is a NIRSA attendees list, so make sure to check that out beforehand and see whom you might want to reach out too.
Bonus Tip: Always carry a phone charger. You will need to keep in contact with the people you are scheduled to meet, take notes, check email, etc. so make sure to keep your phone charger with you so you can power up whenever needed.