Annual conferences offer an opportunity for professional women in construction to develop their skills, learn about new trends in the industry, and network with their peers. But attending your first annual conference for professional women in construction can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Between networking events, sessions, keynote presentations, tours, and opportunities to relax and mingle with peers, choosing where to spend your time can give you a serious case of FOMO.
Of course, you will not be able to do EVERYTHING. Now is the time to consider your priorities. What is your reason for attending the conference? If you are new to the industry, perhaps you are seeking a general overview or specific training. Professional women in construction may be seeking leadership or networking opportunities. Understanding how the annual conference fits into your career plan can help guide your annual conference experience.
According to Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking, in a Harvard Business Review article, “A session should fulfill either a content goal, meaning the talk will be educational, or it should fulfill an interpersonal goal, meaning you want to meet or support the person who is presenting.”
Elizabeth Wilcox, Sr. Consultant for Advising for University of California Berkeley suggests that conference attendees, “Choose to attend at least one conference presentation in an area that you are not familiar with. This might help you discover a new passion, resource, or opportunity. Focus not only on extending existing knowledge and expertise, focus on growth.”
If your employer is paying for it, what do they want you to get out of it? Is there a specific training that they expect you to take or do they want you to network with potential clients and vendors? If your reason is to learn something specific, such as the OSHA 10-hour training at the NAWIC Annual Conference, be sure to register in advance and block off that time first. If you are interested in learning more about an overarching theme, such as leadership, check out the educational tracks listed in the schedule.
Mixers, golf events, meet-ups, galas, and off-site events are designed to build connections. If you can’t attend the networking events at an annual conference because of schedule conflicts, remember networking events aren’t the only way to connect with other professional women in construction. Introduce yourself to fellow attendees and presenters before and after sessions, at meals, and at jobsite tours. Be sure to follow up after the conference, too.
There’s an app for that
When planning for the annual conference, downloading the conference app can be a great help. In addition to being able to plan, most apps can help you navigate to sessions on the day of the conference, provide updates and changes, give you access to presentation downloads, and even easily collect contact information from other attendees.
With all of that planning, it is important to be flexible, too. You never know where a newly discovered interest or connection may lead you. And that can be the best part of attending an annual conference for professional women in construction.
Attending the NAWIC 2023 Annual Conference (August 9-12 in Portland, OR) for the First Time?
Check out one of the two webinars about “What I Need to Know for My First Annual Conference.” Everything you need to know to plan for Annual Conference will be covered! Choose either July 19th at 12:00 pm CST or July 23rd at 6:00 pm CST.
Once you arrive at Annual Conference, plan to attend the First Timer’s Orientation Wednesday, August 9th from 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm to learn about everything to expect now that you are at Annual Conference – knowing Raven & Karen, there might be a surprise for you!
National Association of Women in Construction
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) provides support, networking, mentorship, educational opportunities, leadership training, and advocacy for professional women in construction. With more than 6,100 members in 118 chapters across the US, NAWIC is the leading organization for women in the industry. Reach out to a chapter near you to learn more.