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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday Tips ... Making the Most of Your INA Conference Experience

The Regarding Nannies Development Team is looking forward to attending the upcoming INA Conference in San Francisco.

While we have been attending for many years, we realize there are many first-timers out there. So, we asked a few of our colleagues to share with us what they thought conference attendees should bring to conference.

Some are practical, and some require work, but overall, your INA Conference experience is one you will never forget, and that you will look forward to again and again.

On the practical side …
Cortney Gibson, Erin Krex - Business cards
Taylor Augustine – dollar bills for the raffle

Debra Mathwig and Cortney Gibson suggest bringing photos of your charges (if permitted by employers) to brag about.

Pat Cascio, Cortney Gibson, April Myers and Christy Ochs all recommend comfortable shoes. Your feet will thank you.

Becky Kavanagh says bring extra money, you’ll want some items to take home and there is always a great "raffle" to get caught up in, with nice items you may want. Becky also recommends … often first time attendees are concerned about their dress and fitting in. Business casual will do it - you want to look nice but feel comfortable. Often in the hotel people will know we are with a group and we want to represent well.

Pat Cascio and Christy Ochs suggest a sweater or sweatshirt for the cool evenings.

Cortney Gibson says - You'll be bringing home more than you brought with you. Pack a small bag in your suitcase that can be used to bring home raffle prizes and other goodies.

Kim Peters suggests … if you are searching for a new job, bring your resume/portfolio. When playing tourist, bring local tourist/attraction info.

Many of our conference experts recommend bringing a small notebook to take notes during workshops, write names and numbers down of new people you meet.

Getting the most out of your conference experience …
Debra Mathwig shares with us – bring your open personality, don't be shy about going up to some one and saying hi and that you are new to INA. I know at my first conference I hung out with only a few people I knew until the last day when I met quite a few nannies. I now talk to those nannies quite often and get valuable ideas and support from them, but I wish I would have said hi and accepted their invitations to hang out a lot earlier in the conference.

Katie Vaughan
“Your first INA conference is an amazing experience! A world of new friends and colleagues, great ideas, and memories are at your fingertips. The most important thing you can bring with you is an open mind and a desire to learn and grow as an individual. Take every opportunity to network and meet fellow conference members, make sure to go on group activities and don’t miss a chance to interact with your peers and the conference speakers. There is so much experience and knowledge packed into the members that make up INA - make a commitment to soak up as much knowledge as possible during the conference so that you can hit the ground running with enthusiasm and a new ideas upon your return home.”

Tom Breedlove
With so many smart people, fresh perspectives and unique approaches to problem-solving, I think the most important thing to bring is a wide-open mind. In our rapidly-changing world, it’s important to regularly eliminate pre-conceptions and make room for new possibilities. What was the ideal way to do something a year ago may now be obsolete. Similarly, a new way to think about technology, tools or partnerships may create exciting new opportunities. It’s all there for those who are willing to participate with their mind wide open.

Kathy Webb recommends bringing a completely open mind. You are there to learn, not arrive knowing it all.

Stephanie Breedlove
I think the most important item is a fresh notepad and a commitment to think “out of the box” and take notes. This is always at the top of my list, and this will be my 16th conference. The conference is filled with new ideas, business tips, best practices, important statistics,… that get forgotten by the time you get home. A little note taking to capture some of this valuable information could make a significant difference in the success of your business.

Karen Yatsko
Bring an open mind. Don't think that you know all there is to know in your field. Whether an agency employee or a twenty year nanny, there are always topics at the INA Conference that will expand your knowledge. As a nanny, I tried to branch out and talk with others - a talk with a traveling nanny could inspire a change in the direction of my nanny career. A casual conversation with a nanny tax specialist might help my paycheck and retirement. Meeting an agency owner gave me a new perspective on how they interview parents. Bring a positive attitude. The INA Conference is a chance to meet others in your career field. If you are their complaining about your job, you going to carry around a negative vibe. Remember "Wendy Whiner" on Saturday Night Live? Stay positive and learn from others how they changed things with a positive outlook.

Becky Kavanagh
Bring an open mind - - - good no matter how many times you've come to a conference. Open yourself up to whatever comes your way. A positive attitude - - - this is experience is going to be great if you think it is. You'll meet new people, make some good friends, learn a lot and enjoy a beautiful city. Attend the Orientation on Thursday - - - before the opening reception there's a brief orientation to help new people get ready for a great conference and allows for time to ask questions about INA and the conference. You'll meet some INA members and Board members there. Make the Rounds - - - it's easy to meet a few people and then stick to them like glue, but then you'll be missing all the networking opportunities. Instead sit with new people at each luncheon or breakfast, visit the booths during network time and talk to other attendees, and yes - find some new friends to hang with as well.

Alice Shaffer wants to remind you that “Since I am playing the "raffle lady" again this year my best tip for you is bring address labels for all of the raffle tickets you will want to buy. Remember buy 5 get one free! A dollar a ticket. Lots of gifts cards, chocolate, music, and so forth. Half of all proceeds go to the Imagine Bus Project

I make a game of the conference attendee sheet and try to make sure I meet every single person who is attending the conference. I try to have a short chat with them. I have been doing this for years with all of my nanny conferences. It is a great way to meet people and network. I also send out cards in the mail or emails to people and the speakers as well after the conference.

Do you have a tip to share with first time conference attendees? We look forward to seeing many of you at conference, and for those not able to attend, we will be posting some of our favorite Regarding Nannies posts the week we are away, and look forward to sharing the information and experts we meet at conference with you in the weeks following conference.

Many thanks to all of our conference experts for sharing their thoughts and tips with us.
Taylor Augustine – Nanny
Kathy Webb – HomeWork Solutions,,
Debra Mathwig – Nanny
Kim Peters – Nanny
Erin Krex – First Class Care
Cortney Gibson – Newborn Care Specialist, Gibson Newborn Services
Christy Ochs – Nanny
April Myers – Nanny
Katie Vaughn – Westside Nannies
Becky Kavanagh – Nanny
Tom Breedlove – Breedlove & Associates
Karen Yatsko – Nanny
Pat Cascio – Morningside Nannies
Stephanie Breedlove – Breedlove & Associates


Sue May 4, 2010 at 12:20 PM  

I am very excited to come to INA this year and learn some new things and make some good friends. Thanks for these tips and reminders... no matter how many conferences you go to it is always good to go in with an open mind and an empty notebook! THANKS!!

Alice May 4, 2010 at 3:49 PM  

I am so excited you are coming this year as well Sue. You are so right on open mind and empty notebook!

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