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First-Time Attendee

Rookie attendees get VIP treatment! If you’ve never attended an Association (HCUA/KCUA/MCUA) Convention & Annual Meeting, indicate you are a "first-time attendee" during the registration process. First-time attendees at credit union $50M and more receive a discount too. Credit unions under $50M already receive a discount, so no further discounts apply to first-time attendees from those credit unions.

Newbies get special treatment like a morning team meetings, networking with other new attendees (and meeting veteran credit union leaders), and a special goodie bag.

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*First-time attendees from credit unions $50M and above who register for the full conference receive a discount. 

 

First-Timer's Guide to 2017 Convention & Annual Meeting

Tote bag: You’ll be carrying a lot - computer, notepad/tablet, snacks, a sweater for overly air conditioned rooms, an umbrella, etc.

Business cards: You'll meet a lot of people. Hand out your business cards to help them remember you. Pro tip: Stash your business cards behind your name badge sleeve (you'll get this at registration).

Chargers & travel outlet/portable chargers: You'll probably remember to bring your computer, phone, and notepad/tablet chargers, but you may want to go a step further by bringing a travel outlet or portable charger. That way you can charge on the go. We will also provide a charging station near the registration booth, but this will not be close to the session rooms. 

Snacks and water bottle: Keep your energy up throughout the day with a few snacks, like a granola bar or mixed nuts. We'll provide meals and beverages, but you may need something to tide you over at midmorning. 

Comfortable shoes: At CAM, your shoes are made for walking! Pack your favorite comfortable shoes to minimize blisters and foot pain.

Dress code: Business casual. Think casual slacks not jeans. Also, consider bringing a sweater or light jacket for cool mornings/evenings and the occasional chilly room.

CAM provides great opportunities to meet new people. Check out these tips to make networking more comfortable and effective:

  • Introductions: Find yourself in a group of people that don't know each other? Take a minute to introduce yourself and allow others to introduce themselves. Simply sharing a name and credit union can often start conversations. This is especially helpful if you struggle with starting or carrying on conversations.
  • Chow Line Chats: As you're standing in line at the buffet, strike up a conversation with the person in front of you by saying something as simple as “How are you enjoying the conference?” or “What session did you just come from?” These can be quick conversations, or they may open up the possibility for a longer one.
  • Keep a Drink in Hand: Even if you don’t want anything to eat, get a drink so you have something to hold in your hand. It’s often easier to approach people or stand by yourself if you have something to cover those conversational pauses, like taking a sip of soda.  Keep one hand free to shake hands with each person you meet.
  • Pick a Quiet Table: Sitting down with a group of strangers is tough. Find a table where people aren’t talking too much—that might mean that they don’t all know each other and you can lead the conversation (or just listen in).  Broaden your horizons by avoiding sitting only with people you know. 
  • Business Cards: It can be tricky to know when to drop “the B bomb.” Try to steer the conversation toward a discussion about the other person’s current projects. Once you’ve heard about a soon-to-be-released digital archive or new acquisition, for example, you can say something like, “That’s really interesting. I would love to know how it turns out. Do you have a business card with you so I can follow up once the site launches?” People usually are flattered that you care enough about their work to follow up. It can be easier if you approach presenters after a session. You’ve heard about the project and can ask a question or make a comment one-on-one, rather than in front of the bigger audience. Then, ask for their card. If you have a minute, make a note on the back of the card to remind yourself how you met them.
  • Tweet About It: Consider tweeting from the conference to connect with others at the conference and participate in the discussion. Use the CAM hashtag - #HCUA17.
  • Connect on Social: Once you return home, connect with the people you met on LinkedIn or Twitter. They will probably remember you and accept your invitation.

Remember that you cannot meet everyone who goes to the conference. Some seasoned professionals don’t stray far from the colleagues they see only once a year. However, many experienced attendees love meeting first-timers. If someone's ideas interest you, introduce yourself and discuss their ideas—or yours! 

 

  • Conference schedule is very full and interesting activities will overlap. It’s okay not to attend everything. The important thing is to avoid burn out by not over-scheduling yourself.
  • Follow the conference Twitter hashtag - #HCUA17
  • If you’re looking for a conversation starter, check out the ribbons hanging from a person’s name tag. The ribbons will denote a attendee’s role at the convention.
  • Attend the First-Timer Orientation.
  • Keep your business cards in an easily accessible place. It helps avoid awkward fumbling. If you don't have business cards, consider creating personal cards with your name, basic contact information (phone, semi-professional email), and your personal webpage or LinkedIn profile.

Sometimes selecting which of the breakout sessions to attend requires striking a balance between what you are should attend and what you would really like to attend. Remember: This is your time, so spend it the way you want to.

It’s a good idea to go to a session when:

  • The session is about your field.
  • You are facing a particular challenge at the credit union and there is a session that appears to address that issue.

After you’ve figured out what you should attend, filling your remaining time slots can be really fun. Read through the sessions available during your open time blocks to see if any of them sound interesting. Keep a list of these available sessions, but don’t stress about definitively picking one over another until the time comes. You will end up chatting with other attendees about pending sessions and they may lean toward one or the other or even suggest one you had not considered. Another strategy is to find (or recruit) a buddy to attend a different session.

Some of our veteran attendees share their advice for getting the most out of CAM. 

Jeremy Stauffacher says:

  • Review the agenda to identify breakout sessions that will impact either your current role or a role within the CU you are interested in.
  • Make the most of the networking opportunities during the event.
  • Get business cards from individuals you meet. They can be great resources and provide opportunity to brainstorm through ideas, problem solving, etc.

Jeremy is the vice president of sales & service at Heartland Credit Union (Hutchinson, KS).

Chuck Rentschler, a 30-year attendee, says:

  • Attend all the meetings along with training sessions and sit with different people so you get to network with them.
  • Try to visit all the vendors as it is good way to learn about new products or services plus get to know the personnel associated with those vendors.
  • At the meals, ask the others at your table about what is exciting happening at their credit unions. It is a super opportunity to get some ideas to take back to your credit union.
  • Know the asset size of your credit union and who you use for different services and products.
  • Take your business cards for the vendors prize drawings.
  • Go with a positive attitude and with the intention of coming back with new ideas and new friends.

Chuck is the president of Show Me Credit Union (Mexico, MO).