Listen, Learn, Lead: Make This Your Conference-Going Mantra

By Kristen Bennett

Heading to our Conference for Community College Advancement this October? Here are some reminders about maximizing the experience.

Join me in Palm Springs for a program that offers plenty of notable features, including a stellar lineup of speakers, content-rich sessions, book signings and a variety of networking opportunities.

Wondering if this conference is worth the investment? It is. Here’s why:

  • Sharpen the saw. Don’t be the woodcutter hacking away at the tree with a dull ax while your competition cuts it down in half the time with a sharp one. It’s important to take a break from your routine to sharpen your skills with new ideas and approaches that can make you more effective and efficient at work.
  • Engage with experts and influencers. While not all conferences offer you the opportunity to meet your business idols, your chances are greatly improved when you’re sharing the same space. Sometimes it’s about taking a selfie with someone who has influenced you, sharing a business idea with a colleague you admire or making a connection that can lead to finding your next mentor.
  • Explore innovative tools. At CCCA, the marketplace is the central gathering space for exhibitors to demonstrate tools that can ease your biggest woes. Browse new apps that can make your operations faster. Find products that will help you engage more alumni. Identify a better, easier data processing system. You’ll discover a host of new tools in the Marketplace to better serve your institution’s mission.
  • Break out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to read a blog post from the privacy of your own office. You don’t have to make small talk while listening to a podcast. While there are those among us who are born networkers, for many of us, live events can be a challenge. But breaking out of our comfort zones is just the type of action we need to take to break from the old ways of thinking and reinvigorate our approach.
  • Embrace networking opportunities. There’s no substitution for meeting someone IRL (in real life). This conference offers the opportunity to mix and mingle, form new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
  • Feed off the energy of like-minded individuals. There’s nothing like being in a room of like-minded people—ones who are willing to take time away from the office to learn something new and to better themselves.
  • Experience the serendipity of the random workshop. Some of the best workshops and presentations I’ve attended have been the ones I had no idea about before the conference. Do yourself a favor, come to this conference and find that.
  • Invest in yourself. Leaving the office and “sharpening the saw” is investing in yourself. It’s admitting you’re worth it. It’s admitting you still have things to learn, that you can get better. It’s an investment in yourself, your career and your institution.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Kristen Bennett is vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the TVCC Foundation at Trinity Valley Community College. She’s vice chair of the Conference for Community College Advancement.

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