For NRC and Polco, it’s really not conference season until the Annual International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Conference. We’ve been going to it, as an organization, for well over a decade. Having gone to this big event myself for so many years, I’ve picked up some tips I’d like to share so that you can make the most out of your conference experience.
These are the top five can’t-miss things to do while you are at the ICMA Conference.
Damema Mann is a survey research expert who has managed hundreds of projects at National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) for well over ten years. She loves working with local governments and helping them improve their communities through data.
1. Study up on the local area.
See what the biggest attractions are. You might see something fun, like the Bronze statue of Fonz in Milwaukee. Take a look at the weather and make sure you are dressed for it. And I can’t say this enough: bring comfortable shoes!
2. Use the conference app.
This app has become a truly comprehensive tool. You’ll be able to see who your fellow attendees are, who the speakers are, where to find exhibitors, when and where all the sessions are. You can even create your own schedule. Make sure to pack chargers if you plan to use your phone or tablet at the conference. You can also engage digitally on Twitter using the conference hashtag.
3. Go to the sessions.
You will get a wealth of knowledge from leading experts in the field. You’ll hear from other managers and local government employees who are facing similar challenges and have found unique solutions. You never know where your next great idea will come from, so make sure to attend as many sessions as you can. It’s also great to participate as a panelist in a session. NRC holds multiple sessions every year, so let us know if you would like to speak with us next year.
4. Network at the social events.
There are so many different kinds of events at the ICMA conference. Pick the ones that are right for you. There is a 5K, yoga, golf, tours of the area, and of course the evening receptions and gatherings. These events are great opportunities to see former colleagues and also to meet new folks. You are all in the same business together of helping local governments move forward. So you have a common interest, and I see friendships forged and reinforced at this conference every year.
5. Visit the exhibit hall.
You can come see NRC and Polco in the ICMA Pavilion. The other exhibitors are great too. We’re all giving away free swag at our booths. You can get gifts for your co-workers, friends and family. And there’s free food in there every day. So stop by and say hello.
I look forward to seeing you at the next ICMA Conference!
This is an updated article originally published in 2017.