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Feature Article: 2021 NRWA Conference Recap

November 02, 2021 2:00 AM | Administrative Manager (Administrator)

By Paul Bennett, NCOPE – NRWA Conference Committee

It seems we just keep getting better and better at holding virtual conferences! Our 2020 event was excellent, and I found our 2021 experience to be even better. This year, more than 160 of us attended (a pretty good turnout), and in the future, given the size of our organization, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number goes much higher.

Because so many of us couldn’t make it, as a member of the 2021 Conference Committee, I’d love for all of our members to realize what a fabulous gathering it was. So, here’s my personal experience and summary of the NRWA 2021 Virtual Conference’s “three fabulous Ps”: platform, program, and people.

Platform
We used the Accelevents conferencing system this year (just like last year), and it performed well, with fewer technical glitches this time around and a smoother overall attendee experience. Personally, after just a few minutes of getting used to my surroundings, I felt right at home, and I’m guessing Stringfellow (meaning Addie, Robbie, and Jen) didn’t have to squash too many digital bugs.

Program
As I expected, the presentations were outstanding, with great breadth and depth of knowledge and a near-continual flow of “value bombs” that made the conference worth far more than the price of admission. Moreover, besides fortifying my skill in resumes and LinkedIn (my own two specialties), they broadened my knowledge of other essential career management areas. As a writer considering expanding his suite of offerings, I need to learn a lot more about the roles of other careers industry specialists such as coaches, recruiters, and career center personnel. Because these professionals are so closely involved in my resume clients’ success, I’m thankful that I gathered insight into what they do through the presentations I attended.

If you couldn’t make it and would like to see the outstanding lineup of speakers and topics we featured this year, you can download the conference schedule at this link. Recordings will soon be available for purchase on our On-Demand Webinars page!

People
Conferencing with one’s professional association is exciting, invigorating, and fun—a welcome respite from today’s world of ubiquitous screens, irritating bots, big data, and manipulative algorithms. And I think that’s true of conferences both in-person and virtual. This year’s vibe was great, with many people contributing to the learning by making insightful chat-stream comments and asking great questions.

Kudos to several groups of people:

  • The conference committee—led for the third year in a row by Nancy Grant— who did a fabulous job, having started not much after last year’s conference! Nancy’s stepping down from the hot seat, but fortunately, we have another conference planning expert taking her place.
  • The Stringfellow Management Group—meaning Addie, Robbie, and Jen—who outperformed as well, handling countless administrative matters in the months leading up to the event and making sure, from behind the scenes, that the event ran like clockwork.
  • Door prize donors and vendors – They provided more than 30 great prizes this year, and as always, our vendors were a prominent part of the conference as well. Thank you, donors, and vendors.
  • Our attendees – Most importantly, thanks to everyone who attended for making it a memorable experience by bringing along their knowledge, enthusiasm, and sense of humor.

Looking Ahead
We’re hoping that next year we can all meet each other (for real) in The Big Easy (New Orleans). However, our two virtual conferences have gone so well that your NRWA leadership is exploring the possibility of having more virtual gigs, even after the pandemic releases us from its grasp. Regardless of whether we meet in person or online, the following glowing feedback and hot numbers should give you a sense of the great NRWA conference experiences awaiting you in 2022 and beyond:

A few survey responses to “Please tell us about your favorite part of the 2021 conference”:

  • “I was impressed with the quality of speakers and their relevant content. Consistently excellent presentations. Great food for thought.”
  • “All the sessions I attended – they were wonderful!”
  • “All parts exceptional. Loved the extended networking time and topic-specific networking sessions.”
  • “You’re asking for just one? I believe that this year’s mix of presenters and social activities hit the right notes all around! Plus, I’ve made some new friends and potential referral partners!”
  • “I loved all of it.”

Percentage of attendees who:

  • like the idea of alternating virtual conferences with in-person ones: 86%
  • found using the Accelevents platform to be easy: 92%
  • felt that this year’s conference was great for networking: 92%
  • were “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the overall experience: 98%

Yes, you read that right; 98%!

Hope to see you in New Orleans!

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Paul Bennett has volunteered for the NRWA since 2018 and currently serves as a Director of Member Support for New Business Owners. When not helping job seekers excel in their career marketing activities, Paul enjoys creative writing, cycling, hiking, camping, anything outdoorsy, and chilling with Bingo (his Bichon Frise X miniature poodle). He’s Principal of NOVA Career Strategies in Vancouver, BC. Find him online at LinkedIn.com/in/paulraworthbennett.

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