The ILEETA 2016 Conference is up and running and of course day one does not disappoint. While I admittedly arrived late, when I walked into the lobby I was met with the faces of fellow law enforcement trainers, friends, colleagues, mentors and dancers!
The new hotel is huge, and connected with a larger conference center which provides for more walking. However this is the price that I am willing to pay to get great training and see exceptional trainers. Besides, I could stand to lose a little weight. But what I will provide is three tips that I learned after my first conference. As a side note, if you see me, say “Hi”, strike up a conversation, or trade a patch.
Tip #1 – Attend Sessions
This might seem like a no brainer, but that is what you here for, to expand your horizons, to sharpen your skills, and to connect paradigm shatter concepts (Dr. Wes for you). All courses for ILEETA are selected with care, to provide the most information to the membership, but not everything is right for your individual development. Use the new online application, find classes that are within your wheel house and go. Get recommendations from other attendees, and look for people who have spoken at conferences in years past.
Tip #2 – Professional Network
For a new conference attendee, this might be something that is a little scary, you might hesitate, and not want to walk outside of your comfort zone. But get over yourself, this is a peer network. Walk up, ask questions of presenters, meet the advisory board members, or anyone with a name plate that says ILEETA 2016 Conference. In my short time I have already come up with some ideas for articles, classes, and marketing plans for my business. I drink at the table of many great trainers and I am still at the “new” trainers end. Have a stack of cards and hand them out. Collect cards, and connect. The most important part of networking is not the original meetings, it is the deliberate follow-up.
As an example, I caught the tale end of Dr. R. Martinelli’s class. I have known Ron professional for a few years now, we have spoken on the phone, connected on the Internet, and discussed case work. However I have never had a face to face with him, this was my chance. We shared a brief conversation, and hopefully will be able to connect more over the course of the conference.
Tip #3 – Recharge, Relax and Enjoy
According to my wife, I have been coming to ILEETA for nine years. This is a subject of great debate because it only feels like four. I look forward to every year coming down, relaxing with friends, chatting, about nothing or everything. We have saved, and solved all of the world’s problems in about 15 minutes or so, again this is subject of great debate. This is a conference of peers, law enforcement trainers and we are in Chicago. For the past four years, there has been a group of people who go to Fogo De Chao’ for the “meat sweats”. There is of course the yearly adventure to find a White Castle for my friends from Canada. I will not say these formal traditions, but it is something where we can kick back and relax. Take advantage of the hospitality nights, vendor expo and other chances to mingle. After all, it is only 51 weeks until next year’s ILEETA.