Now that college and high school classes are out for the summer, this is the best time to network, further your knowledge, and get those CEUs! Whether you’re attending a national athletic conference or a local clinic, here are a few not-so-common tips for getting the greatest benefits from the experience.
1. Create a Digital Resume
Everyone will tell you to bring business cards and resumes to hand out to potential employers. While you definitely want to have a way for people to contact you, hauling around all of those materials can be cumbersome. Instead, consider creating a digital resume; something you can easily send to someone’s phone directly via AirDrop, Google Drive, Dropbox, or any similar method. This will also save money on printing fees and allow you to have a full color resume available. Be sure to put a link to the digital resume on your business cards if you decide to make some.
2. Get Involved
When attending "hands on" sessions be sure to be one of the participants. Any time a speaker asks for volunteers, it is a chance for you to learn first-hand. What could be better than being taught directly by a clinician? It’s also an opportunity to meet other volunteers and possibly be seen by potential employers. This is a simple and effective way to increase your networking.
3. Take Notes
Even though you may be burnt out from your degree program, take notes on the presentations you attend. Whether you prefer to take them digitally or with pen and paper, it can be invaluable to keep track not only of the information presented, but on related thoughts that may come to mind. I have had some great ideas for articles, presentations, drills, and team building exercises while taking notes on a conference presentation. Additionally, your notes will help you to follow up with speakers if you have any questions for them after their presentation.
4. Do Your Homework
Speaking of presenters, you cannot go wrong doing some research on the clinicians. Reading up on the backgrounds, articles, and research published by everyone in the lineup will help you to have a better understanding of the topics they will discuss. This is a must for graduate students; whether you already know your thesis topic, or may still be searching for something that sparks your interest.
5. Bunk Up
If you are having trouble finding a hotel or affording a hotel room, use social media to advertise that you are looking to split a room at the conference. Most strength coaches are in the same boat and will gladly split the cost with a peer. Additionally, build relationships with vendors as they tend to split costs on housing on Airbnb and other venues. They are also well-connected in the industry and can be a huge resource to you in terms finding opportunity.
6. Plan Ahead
Just like the field of strength and conditioning, you have to plan ahead if you are going to make the most of an athletic conference or clinic, regardless of the reason for attending. This is extremely important if you are attending a national conference. These events can be very large and the venues are generally expansive. In these cases, you may even want to write down the sessions you plan on attending and their locations.
Make your first or next conference a success by preparing properly. You will be thankful you did when the event is over!
Have any tips for getting the most out of conferences and clinics? Leave a comment and let us know!