10 Tips for Maximizing Your Experience at NEXT 2018
APTA's NEXT Conference & Exposition is coming up quick! If you didn't make it in time for advance registration, you can still register online or onsite in Orlando. Plus, we have daily rates if you can't make the whole conference.
Whether it's your first conference or your twentieth, here are some helpful tips for connecting with fellow conference-goers and making the most of your time in Orlando.
- Make plans ahead of time to meet up with people you know will be attending. Your former classmates, professors, and coworkers can introduce you to their networks. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by so many attendees you've never met, you'll be exchanging ideas and building your professional networks.
Maybe you see a speaker on the NEXT app with whom you'd really like to get in touch. Contact them and see if they might have a few minutes during conference to answer some questions in person.
- Learn your way around the NEXT app. Seriously, the app is a time-saver. It contains all session descriptions, locations, and times, as well as a scheduling feature to keep track of the sessions you are most interested in. You can search for sessions by day or by speaker. It also has exhibitor info and maps.
- Outline your goals and plan your schedule. Write down your top 3 goals for NEXT, and then use the app to find ways to achieve them. Want to learn about a topic outside your current focus? There's likely a session on that. Want to find a mentor? Plan to attend the Oxford Debate, daily networking coffees, or receptions. APTA staff also has put together some handy highlights for early-career PTs, mid-career PTs, and PTAs.
- Pack comfortable shoes to wear—and some to give. As PTs and PTAs, comfortable shoes should be a no-brainer. But if you've never been to a conference, trust us. Your back will thank you for some arch support and cushioned soles.
Shoes4Kids will thank you, too, for a donation of children's athletic shoes and socks. In the spirit of service, APTA is once again collaborating with the nonprofit to collect and distribute shoes to area children in need. Attendees can bring brand-new children's athletic shoes and socks to conference or make a monetary donation. Check out requested shoe and sock sizes.
- Get inspired. NEXT signature events such as the McMillan Lecture, the Opening Ceremony (this year with Gabby Reece!), the Rothstein Roundtable, and the Maley Lecture can open your mind to new possibilities for the profession and your career trajectory, while the Oxford Debate is a good way to have fun while tackling a two-sided topic.
- Connect with attendees who practice in specialties other than yours. Just because you mainly practice in orthopedics doesn't mean you can't learn from peers in pediatrics or women's health. The same is true for clinicians and academics. You never know—you might end up switching career paths, or think of new ways to collaborate in the clinic.
- Get social! You have colleagues or friends who won't be attending, so don't forget to share video clips, photos, and hot tips from speakers on your topic of interest. Make sure to get a photo with friends at the selfie station in the exhibit hall. Use hashtag #APTANEXT, and follow @APTANEXT on Twitter and Facebook.
- Have some after-hours fun. Once sessions are over for the day, take some time to get outside and decompress. NEXT attendees have access to specially priced, after-2 pm tickets to Universal Studio's Florida™ or Universal's Islands of Adventure™. The ticket also includes select live entertainment venues of Universal CityWalk™. There are general discounts on Orlando attractions available through the Convention and Visitors Bureau site.
- Follow up with new connections. After you return home, send an email note to a speaker, and establish LinkedIn and social media connections with new acquaintances. Sharing information and advice can continue long after the conference is over.
- After NEXT ends, be proud. You made it through a tsunami of information, expanded your network, and hopefully made some lifelong friends. As a profession, we're #BetterTogether.
Enjoy the conference!