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NAA Education Conference: Research. Rehearse. Refresh.

By Stephanie Anderson, CAM, CAPS, Regional Property Manager, Drucker & Falk

I attended the NAA Education Conference & Exposition for the first time back in 2013. I was excited, anxious and overwhelmed all wrapped up into one. I was afforded the chance to attend alongside 6,000 of my industry peers and I was thankful for the opportunity.

Looking at the jam-packed schedule of events from Wednesday to Saturday had my head spinning. How could I possibly make it to every great session, check out all the cool vendor booths and enjoy some downtime networking at the sponsored events?

The good news is: I survived. And, my experience at each conference since then has been even greater.

I find that prepping is the key to having a successful week during the conference. Viewing the schedule ahead of time is important. It’s best to book your hotel early because rooms fill up fast. You’ll be relieved if you allow extra time to arrive to the conference destination in case your flight is delayed. Having a strategy about which breakout sessions you will attend -- as well as which ones your colleagues attend -- (for note-sharing glory, of course) will make attending even more valuable.

Did I mention you should purchase NAAEI's REWIND? This affordable investment (the CD includes recordings of all of the breakout sessions) enables you to gain from the sessions you missed or review the ones you did attend. It also serves as a valuable resource for your co-workers after the conference.

Let’s not forget the importance of checking out the hottest industry trends and technology on the Exhibit Hall. It’s like speed-dating with all the supplier partners in one location—pick and choose who to visit and what information you need. And don’t forget your bag to grab as much swag as possible. Look for exhibitors give away some cool prizes like money and a car. Oh, and the free pens and hats are cool, too.

So how do you plan to take it all in? Three words: Research. Rehearse. Refresh.