17NTC: Tips for First-Timers

The 17NTC is right around the corner! It’s time to start preparing. We put together some tips for first-timers, many of which come from a 17NTC forum post started by “longtime listener, first-time attendee” Mark Root-Wiley.

The NTEN community comes from numerous sub-sectors, cultures, and countries. Let’s make sure we all have a common understanding of how to maintain a safe and welcoming space for all 17NTC attendees. Make sure to review NTEN’s code of conduct before arriving on-site.

Judy Freed wants to save us all from overwhelm and encourages attendees to plan in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to read through the agenda and session descriptions.

screenshot of the 16NTC mobile appWe’ll add: Download the conference app after it’s released in the beginning of March. Use it to create your personalized 17NTC agenda. We’ll let you know via email and social media when it’s released, so keep your eyes peeled!

Emily Weinberg recommends that attendees arrive at the session rooms early to ensure a seat. Additionally, she smartly recommends selecting a second or third session as a backup plan. This is especially good advice given that we’re going to sell out registration this year, so we’ll be at capacity.

We’ll add another tip: Don’t be afraid to leave a session if it’s not for you. We encourage everyone to practice the law of mobility. If you’re not getting value from a session, please feel free to head to the next session on your backup list. Attending the NTC is an investment in you. Do what you need to make the most of it.

Make use of the collaborative session notes. Stacy Clinton points out that they’re “useful for sessions you attend, and even more useful for sessions you had to miss. So, to echo advice of others, don’t feel bad that you can’t attend every session. Your fellow attendees have you covered. All of us do-gooders want each other to succeed!”

Related: The official hashtag is #17NTC. Contribute to our shared knowledge and chat with the NTEN community now, during the conference, and forever.

Don’t be shy, sit with people you don’t know. Longtime NTC-goer Peter Campbell wants to reassure newbies that “the crowd at NTC is warm, welcoming, and mission-driven, as opposed to ego-driven. We’re all about meeting people and sharing our knowledge and resources.” Bonus: For those who, like me, need a little extra help sometimes, the 17NTC community sourced some excellent conversation starters.

people talking and laughing in the hallways at 16NTCCindy Leonard suggests that attendees take advantage of the “hallway” track. Give yourself permission to skip a session and spend time chatting with new and old friends and reflecting on the content.

Greg Lee encourages everyone to check out the lunchtime Birds of a Feather groups and self-organized community events.

Spend time in the exhibit hall. Nathan Gasser says, “I used to cruise the exhibits and only approach booths where I really wanted to know something about the company or had a really specific need–which meant I passed most of them by. Now I basically go door-to-door and usually start with ‘Hi! Tell me about [Vendor Name]’ and just let them introduce their company. Great way to learn about stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know.”

We’re a business casual and t-shirt bunch. Skip your suit and heels, but do pack warm layers in case of a chilly breakout session room. Additionally, help those of us with allergies breathe easier and leave perfumes and other scented items at home.

Bring plenty of business cards (and do yourself a favor and schedule time post-conference for sending follow-ups).

Does your organization have stickers? Bring a handful of stickers for our sticker swap table.

Bring a portable device charger if you have one, but know that outlets and charging stations will abound.

Think about packing extras like running gear, walking shoes, knitting, or board games—there is so much to do in DC and so many new friends to do it with!

Pro-tip: Let NTEN staff know what you need. We want the NTC to be the most inclusive and welcoming it can be. We’ve made sure to have gender neutral restrooms, a private room for nursing mothers, space for Friends of Bill W. gatherings, prayer room, accessible session rooms, pronoun ribbons, ASL and CART service, and meals to accommodate dietary restrictions. Let us know if there’s something else we can do to help you feel safe, welcome, and at home at the NTC and in the NTEN family.

We can’t wait to see you in March! Get ready to meet and make long-lasting relationships with the fabulous, warm, and welcoming NTEN community. As Peter put it, the “NTC is just the peak week of a year-long gathering.”

Bethany Lister
Community Engagement Manager