There’s still time to register for the NCRA Conference & Expo happening July 27-30 in Houston, Texas, and one of the best reasons to attend is the opportunity to network. Past attendees have shared that they network anywhere and anytime — before and after sessions, during breaks in the hallways, at lunch, at the end of the day while relaxing, and even by the pool.
It may seem like networking is all about building a network to advance your career, but attendees also mentioned that the networking aspect is just motivating, just being around people who are excited about taking their career to the next level can be exhilarating.
“I love attending NCRA’s Conferences because they are so motivating to me,” says Georgia Northway, RPR, an official from O’Fallon, Mo. “I see the greats, the legends in my mind, and I shake hands with them, and they inspire me to go home and be the best reporter I can possibly be. Also they inspire me to want to give back more to the profession. Someday I want to be a speaker. Someday I want to be on the Board maybe. It ignites my ambition, but I’m hoping in a way that’s more selfless than just my own name recognition.”
“Attending the Conference really gives you an opportunity to network with people and meet people, there are so many facets of the Association. You have your court reporters, legal videographers, scopists, teachers, students. It is just an amazing opportunity to get to know people and meet people one on one,” says Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CLVS, an official from Dallas, Texas.
Tips for networking
In-person events, such as the NCRA Conference & Expo, are great places to network, but to make the most of your time and build your network, it’s helpful to start with a plan. Don’t worry! It’s easier than you think!
Even if you’re an introvert and talking to strangers makes you nervous, you can network! Keep in mind that other people are there to network too and that you have a lot in common just based on what you do. It’s not often that you get to talk to so many people who really understand what you do, so here’s your chance to make a natural connection.
Just like learning steno (or legal video), it helps to practice. Think about some conversation starters. You might want to ask: “What did you think of the keynote?” or “What session are you planning to go to next?” Ask about their job. “What’s an interesting assignment you recently had?” or “What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter/captioner/legal videographer?”
Keep in mind too that networking is something you need to do before (do your prep), during (make your connections), and after the event (follow up) to be most effective.
Have a goal. Consider what you want from the event. Are you looking for work? Are you a firm owner looking for new freelancers? Maybe you want advice on a specific issue. Having a goal gives you more focus in seeking out contacts, asking helpful questions, and following up after the event.
Contact people before the event. NCRA’s event app lets you see who is attending, who is presenting, and who is exhibiting. It also lets you reach out to other attendees. You can also look online or call or email people in the field that you already know to ask if they will also be attending. If there’s someone you especially hope to see, suggest meeting during the event, or even see if you can join forces if you are looking for specific information.
Connect at the event
Get out of your comfort zone. One of the great things about being at the NCRA Conference is that people understand what you’ve been through. While it’s great to sit with friends, also make time to talk to someone new. Remember, they might be trying to expand their networks,too.
Share your knowledge. If you have a comment or question during a session, share it. When you are attending a networking event, use the questions you had prepared or just see where the conversation takes you. If you are asked a question, try to give just a little more information than you need to, and make sure that you ask questions of your new friend too. To develop a true connection, you want to see some give-and-take.
Try to make mental notes (or write it down if you need to) about the most interesting points in your conversation. Perhaps you want to reach out to someone to continue talking about a session topic. You will want to remember who you were talking to and what you were talking about – and possibly some contact information.
Email and call after the event. The next step is to follow up. Contact everyone you talked to with a brief message, including a new question or comment about your conversation. Try to reach out to people within a week of the event, but it’s better to reach out later than not at all. Then develop a system to keep in touch.
Make sure that you note these networking opportunities on your schedule:
- New! Firm Owners Focus, Thursday, July 27, 9:45 a.m.-4:45 p.m., with lunch (separate registration)
- Welcome Reception in the Expo Hall, Thursday, July 27, 5:30-7 p.m.
- Breakfasts in the Expo Hall for Registered attendees who are also hotel guests, Friday and Saturday morning, 7:30-8:30 a.m.
- Coffee breaks in the Expo Hall (various times Friday and Saturday)
- NCRF Angels Luncheon (by invitation only)
- Awards Luncheon, Saturday, July 29, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Member Recognition Gala: Boot Scootin’ in Houston, Saturday, July 29, 7-10 p.m.
Visit the NCRA Conference & Expo web page for more information and to register now.