April 15 marks the early-bird deadline for registration to the National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ 2016 conference. As one of media’s most affordable conferences, NFCB16 is worth your time. It is the major event for community media, especially community radio, and one of those annual gatherings anyone interested in the growth of hyperlocal media can’t miss.
If you’re considering heading to NFCB16 for the first time, but are on the fence, there are many reasons to attend. Conferences are a great learning opportunity. You get to hear from peers and leaders in community radio about best practices, innovative ideas and ways of tackling common problems. After the conference, you have new contacts you can reach out to when you need them. Plus, conferences can really reinvigorate and inspire you and your work.
As a veteran of many conferences, I can tell you such events can enhance your skills. However, having the best experience possible for first-timers means coming to NFCB16 with a plan. What do you want out of this conference, and how to get that, will help you make the most of your investment.
Get a game plan. Make a short list of a few objectives for your attendance and study the conference agenda. NFCB16 is broken out into subject areas as well as intensives. What you want to learn will help you figure out what you want to attend.
Connect early. You can get to know fellow attendees through the NFCB16 Twitter list or Facebook event page to post questions, room/ride shares or anything in between. No need to wait until the conference to get acquainted.
Bring a notebook. Some people prefer their laptops or tablets for note taking, but I recommend a plain old notebook for your NFCB16 sessions. You won’t have to worry about your battery charge, dropping your device or lugging it around after a long day.
Pace yourself. Some people try to make every single session possible, or sit in a few sessions per track. Do what works for you, but remember that conferences are a huge intellectual drain and your concentration may ebb after a few hours. You may also get into a good conversation and want to make allowances for that. Finally, all the stimulation may just make you want to go back to your room for a bit to nap or recharge. Consider pace as you plan.
Be prepared to talk. Breaking the ice with people you don’t know is always an adventure. Consider things you want to share about your organization and yourself. What are the nagging questions you tussle with, and want insights about? What can you ask beyond ‘what do you do’ and ‘how’s your station’? It should go without saying that you want to be comfortable chatting with strangers. If you’re not, use this as a moment to feel more at ease.
Have fun. Socializing with colleagues is a nice way to learn about our shared work in an informal setting. Denver has so much to see and enjoy. However, try not to overdo it; remember, you have a conference to finish!
This is the 40th annual event, so already NFCB16 promises to be a signature conference. First-timers are always welcome. An optimal experience just needs some help. See you in Denver!