Buddies Welcome Newbies at #ata55

By The Savvy Newcomer Team

belt-311820_1280The pre-conference event that was a resounding success last year, Buddies Welcome Newbies, is back this year and it promises to be an even bigger event!

Led by Helen Eby and Jamie Hartz, with the support of lots of volunteers, this program is designed as an ice breaker for those attending the Conference for the first – or even the second – time. The ATA Annual Conference is the biggest T&I event in the US, and walking around without knowing anyone can be a bit overwhelming.

In the same spirit of this blog, aimed at newcomers to the profession, Buddies Welcome Newbies is the session to attend if you are either a newcomer or an inexperienced conference attendee (or both!). Helen and Jamie have become the Fairy Godmothers of the Newbies and this session is sure to offer some great tips to help you navigate the Conference.

The plan is simple:

  • Attend the opening session of Buddies Welcome Newbies.
  • After the wonderful presentation given by Helen and Jamie, jam-packed with cool tips, Newbies are paired up with Buddies (final ratio will depend on number of participants in attendance).
  • Newbies and their Buddies make their own plans to attend a conference session together, have a meal together, etc. The number of activities and frequency is up to you.
  • Attend the wrap-up session for even more great information on what to do next and listen to presentations from guest speakers.

This year’s response has been tremendous and to this date, we have 60 registered buddies and 129 registered newbies. Haven’t registered yet? Not to worry, here is the link to the Buddies Welcome Newbies.

Although we often advertise this event as a great session for Newbies – and the benefits for them are apparent – the real stars of the program are the Buddies. We just can’t do it without their help, dedication, and willingness. A big shout-out to all our Buddies!

Registrations are still coming in, and we know they will continue even until the day of the event, but we wanted to take this opportunity to review some of the comments we have received so far, and address them the best we can.

Learn new skills Skills take time, but you will find lots of sessions that get you started thinking about how to do that! You may even find training programs represented in the booths!
Meet people Now, that’s easy! There are 1500 of them!
Tips about the ATA Certification Exam Hm… Scary. Yep. Many fail. You, of course, won’t! But really, just relax and do your best. Your business can go on whether or not you are certified!
Network Go to the Division dinners, the Résumé Exchange, the Brainstorm Networking right before the Business Practices happy hour, and see how you can connect with others!
Learn more about my field 175 sessions… Need we say more?
Negotiating and pricing techniques Sit down – coffee or tea in hand -, open your Conference program and study it! You are sure to find more than one session on the subject.
Tips from a friendly colleague, choosing sessions Your Buddy will be awesome for this! Buddies are there to help you break the ice with this scary crowd for a couple of days. Later, you might stay connected, or not! Maybe you will stay connected in a lighthearted way for a long time, no commitments.
I’m introverted Most of us are more introverted than we care to admit… Good thing you admit it! Just assume others are also looking for a friend. Your Buddy can help you at the opening banquet.
How to make the best of the conference This is our specialty! We are awesome at this! We set you up with a friend, who of course has all the answers (or not) but you will meet a friendly crowd. Just grab anyone with a red ribbon later in the conference, since they are the friendliest bunch in town!

Helen likes to go to these kinds of sessions:

Speakers she promised to support.

Topics she disagrees with.

Issues she is curious about.

Chances to just geek out (she did start out college as a med school student)

Take a session off and visit the booths when there is nobody there.

Take a session off to just go to something fun. An art museum, a walk along the lake, whatever. Take a break!

What you make out of the Conference is up to you, and your Buddy will be a friendly face who can provide general guidelines as to what to do, how to navigate the Conference, and perhaps share a tip or two about the trade; don’t expect him or her to be a Mentor, though!

So, get your notepad, tablet or whatever gadget you use for writing stuff down, and get ready to make the most out of your conference experience!

And don’t forget to leave us your comments below to tell us about your experience before or after the Conference!