Preparing for the #11NTC

The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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The countdown has started and in two Wednesdays, I’ll be in Washington D.C. for the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#11NTC). It is the one conference that I have been too that addresses every aspect of my job. I have to be careful not to focus on when I get there, because there is a whole list of things I must do before I can even leave Pittsburgh for the road trip to D.C.

I’m not going to bore you with things that I have to do like moving a main server to new SAN equipment.  But there are some good tips that I plan on using in the next couple weeks to be ready for #11NTC and they may of be use to you.

  1. Pull out my copy of Switch – I ordered this book after last year’s NTC in two of the breakout sessions I attended. I read it pretty quickly after receiving it. With Dan Heath giving a keynote on Friday, I want to get inside of this book again. There are some resources I could just read once, but I think I need to open the cover again and maybe read this one a bit slower to prepare.
  2. Pull out my copy of Linchpin – Seth Godin is not giving a keynote during #11NTC, but I do remember reading Linchpin after participating in a contest during last year’s NTC. I read the book while riding the stationary bike at home, and while that may seem odd, I got to the point that I found myself on the bike for 90 minutes because I couldn’t put this book down. I even allowed my CEO to borrow the book because I found it so important to me. I need to find that excitement again. It’s easy to lose the energy over 11 months and I want to already have found it again before I park my Escape in the Hilton parking area.
  3. Updated all profiles on social media – I think perhaps the hardest thing to write is a bio about myself. It always seems generic and I’m not sure that my words ever really portray who I truly am. A yearly review of what is on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is absolutely called for and maybe I’ll get around to updating even the About Me on my blog.
  4. Scheduling nothing “big” to occur back at the office – Last year, I almost got derailed by a huge project needing to be signed off while I was in Atlanta. Somehow, things got twisted and I spent most of my free time in Atlanta trying to ‘fix’ the miscommunications that were occurring between nontechnical staff and our IT support company about a HUGE technology project that I had spent over 18 months preparing. I could be in the same boat this year – our agency is remodeling a new building, the huge project from last year is a database that is in implementation/beta testing state, and we are migrating to a new SAN and Virtual Machine hosts (and Citrix!). But I’m in charge and for three days, I think the ‘shop’ should be focused on supporting staff and all of these big projects can wait. I can only control so much – but I’m going to do my best to make sure things go on hold.
  5. Invest in my Smartphone – I’m not going to manage to get approval for an iPad or a Xoom before #11NTC – although I have been trying. Honestly, I don’t even have a iPhone or a Droid. In fact, I have a Windows Mobile HTC TouchPro2 – and I’m very happy with it. In fact, I love it probably at least 10X more that I did my Blackberry. However, I  have tried all of the free apps for Twitter and I don’t like any of them. I need to just bite the bullet and buy an app. But the bigger issue is I need to get a second battery if I have any hopes of making it through a whole day at #11NTC without losing power on the phone. It was NTC that made me start to really use Twitter and I’ll need the battery juice this year, unless someone has an iPad or a Xoom for me…
  6. Don’t over think which breakout sessions to attend – A good friend told me last year that there would be a point that I would get overwhelmed at my first NTC and I did. It was more along the lines of, there was too much that I wanted to do. I don’t know how many times I looked at the breakout sessions and realized I wanted to be at five at one time. I kept reading and researching presenters – it was too much work. This year, I’ve used myNTC and have already made my decisions about which breakout sessions I’m attending. I need to just stay with those gut decisions and worry more about meeting others than which sessions I ultimately attend.

I probably have other things I should do to prepare, and I probably will list them for myself in the next several days. There are traditional things like making sure that I have enough business cards and turning in work before I leave. (I’m big into lists, so I’m sure that notepad next to my desk today, while our agency email is down, will be a great place to start.) I’m really looking forward to this year’s #11NTC and I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of my fellow nonprofit techie folks. See you there!

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