Conference Tips for Independent Educational Consultants

1) Plan Ahead. There are over 50 breakouts, a dozen discussion topics, plus major speakers, a master class, pre-conference workshops, networking events, after-hours movie, and receptions. There’s no way to keep all of that straight without some advance planning. Check out the schedule of events to make sure you don’t miss anything important to you. And if attending with a colleague…

2) Divide and Conquer! Attending the conference with others from your practice? In your IECA regional group? Friends, colleagues, roommates? Don’t attend all the same breakouts together. Instead, divide up the list, attend different sessions, take an extra handout, and give each other summaries or briefings later.

3) Know your badge colors! There will be over 350 IECs at the conference, but that leaves nearly 1,000 admission reps, administrators, vendors, and others. You know your specialty and your information needs. Those badge stripe colors can help you find the people you most need to connect with. Remember, those admission reps and vendors are here because they want to meet and connect with IECs. Help them out!

Gold = IECA Professional Members
Silver = IECA Associate & Student Members
Blue = Colleges, Post-Secondary, Gap & Travel Programs
Red = Schools
Yellow = Therapeutic & Behavioral Programs
Green = LD-focused schools & programs
Purple = Non-IECA Independent Educational Consultants
Orange = Related Service Companies
Black = Vendors of Products and Services

4) Be open to schools, programs and colleges that you have never heard of. Yes, we know the Fairs and Swap are tough. Hundreds of reps and just one of you. It’s so much easier to pop over to the schools you know, and those who are well known. But let’s remember that your worth as an IEC is based on knowing the “hidden gems,” the “unusual places” with surprising areas of study or creative philosophies. Do get to know those you haven’t heard of before. Doing so makes you a much more powerful IEC.

5) Fight Conference Overload. There are some who thrive in a conference environment: 14-hour days, vendors vying for your attention, 1,000 potential contacts all crowded into the hotel lobby. For others it’s the very definition of hell on earth. But in-person conferences are still the best way to connect, learn, experience. Fight the urge to skip a meal, or hide in your room during the Swaps or during that one last hosted reception. Go to everything! It’ll end in just three to four days. Accept that fatigue and overload are part of the conference experience. That’s what plane rides home are for.

6) Stay at the conference hotel or within walking distance. Lots of people minimize hotel costs by sharing a room with a roommate. The IECA office maintains a list of anyone who would like to share a room and will send the list to anyone who requests it. If you would like to be added to the list, contact LeAnnette Bailey at [email protected]

7) Networking can begin even before the conference starts. Reach out to people you have met in classes or at the Summer Training Institute, during other conferences, or as you began learning about IECA. Think about whether you want to make plans to meet with that person at the conference.

8) At the conference, try to meet new people each day. A good way to keep track of people you’ve met is to make notes on the back of their business card, along with a few fun facts about each person.

9) The Tuesday evening member dinner is a wonderful opportunity to meet other IECs. Smaller than some other events, it is a relaxing and fun way to meet new people.

10) Come to the hosted receptions on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and talk to hosts and other consultants. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about sponsors’ schools and programs.

11) Pace yourself. Conference days are very full. It is okay to take a break if you need to refuel or regroup.

12) Meals offer great networking opportunities. Introduce yourself to your table mates and let them know that this is your first conference.

13) Ask questions. Take notes. Bring lots of business cards. Plan follow-up contacts.

14) Conference dress is business casual, although some people dress up a bit for the Tuesday member dinner. Dress in layers as meeting rooms can be too cold or too warm. Above all, pack for comfort.

15) Pack light. You are sure to pick up materials along the way that you want to bring home with you. If you end up with more than you can carry, stop by the hotel’s business center for a UPS or FedEx box and ship your materials to your office.