Tips for Making Your NTC an Amazing Experience

NTC is only about six weeks away and now’s the time to get planning! The best place to begin is your myNTC page. This is your one-stop shop for all your conference planning, where you can add sessions and events to your schedule, connect with other attendees, check out sponsors and vendors, and stay up-to-date on the latest conference happenings. It’s also the place to go if you’re looking for a ride to the conference or to share a hotel room.

When it comes to preparing for NTC, we know the NTEN community is the best source of helpful conference tips. We received a number of helpful suggestions from past attendees for how to get the most out of your NTC conference experience:

Research in Advance: Sue Ann Reed recommends planning your conference experience as much as possible before you get there. Put together a top 3-5 list of “must attend” sessions. Amy Quinn points out that it’s important to have some goals around what you want to learn, study, advance your skills, etc., as there are terrific offerings to choose from. Marlina McKay suggests making a list of everything you want to learn and have it handy at the back of your nametag so you keep your objectives in mind.

While it’s essential to plan what you want to do, Steve Heye points out that you should also research who you want to meet or spend some time with. By using the myNTC community, you can look at the attendee list and set up some meetings in advance.

Be purposeful: There’s only so many hours in the conference and you want to make the most of them. As Steve points out, schedules get full fast and before you know it, the event is over, so be intentional about the meetings and sessions you schedule. Sue Anne and Amy advise being purposeful with the vendors. Think about which ones would be helpful to know more about and perhaps have a targeted list of sponsors and vendors ahead of time.

Divide and Concur: Amy warns that when you read through the program, you’ll want to attend multiple sessions and some might occur at the same time! So, spend time planning beforehand and then remain flexible in case you hear about a “can’t miss” session. Marlina suggests having a friend or making a new one, so you both can both attend different sessions, share information, and divide and conquer your to-do list.

Pack Like a Pro: Besides a toothbrush and a jacket just in case for any chilly Minneapolis weather, make sure you pack for your conference comfort and enjoyment. Marlina offers a list of items to consider adding to your packing list:

  • Small extension cord / power strip combo
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Plenty of business cards and a dedicated place to store them, along with the cards you receive
  • MiFi or phone-tethering app (at some point the internet will be slow and/or not working), plus apps that work well in offline mode for any dead zones
  • Snacks

Be a social butterfly: Social events are where a lot of the connecting magic happens. “Do go to parties and networking events”, advises Marlina. “But plan space between events too because back-to-back events will wear you out.” Sue Anne recommends planning at least one or two social gatherings in advance, even if it’s just an afternoon coffee break. Participating in the Day of Service can be a terrific way to meet others while making a difference for a local organization. For another fun way to meet people, consider enrolling in the NTC Geek Games, where you can showcase your dodgeball or karaoke skills, as well as other events. If you’re more of a spectator, find yourself a spot in the stands and cheer on the competitors.

Learn from previous conferences: In past years, others have shared their conference tips and experiences. For last year’s NTEN conference, Julia Smith compiled her list of tips for how to make the most out of a conference before you go and once you arrive. Ann K. Emory created a conference tip sheet not specific to NTC, but her tips can apply to attendees of most any conference.

Looking for more tips and ideas? Have suggestions to offer? Post them in the myNTC discussions and get more terrific advice from your fellow NTCers.