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Making the most out of DAV’s national convention

Making the most out of DAV’s national convention

DAV’s annual national convention is a place to discuss ideas and find new ways to use them. Your attendance not only improves the public’s perception of DAV and veterans in general but also provides volume to the voices setting our organization’s agenda for the coming year.

So what can you do to make sure you get the most out of going to Phoenix this year? I’d like to break it down into three sections: before, during and after.

Before you go, gain visibility for you and your chapter. Start by keeping an eye on the Events page on dav.org so you know exactly when registration opens. This is also where you’ll learn other details, including hotels and agenda. Next, look to build strong relationships with other members. If you know of groups or people that you want to connect with, reach out before you go and schedule a time to meet in Phoenix.

An excellent way to stay informed about veterans’ issues is to sign up for DAV CAN, the Commander’s Action Network. After joining, you’ll receive emails with information on each new bill DAV is supporting on behalf of our nation’s veterans. It will keep you up to date and show you where your chapter fits into the greater picture in DAV.

It also leads you directly to one of the main purposes of the convention: being better informed. You’ll also find sponsor and exhibitor information and the convention schedule on our website. When you’re planning your schedule, start with sessions and events you’re interested in attending. Then make sure you’re getting a nice range of topics, skill-building sessions and social events for networking.

During the convention, there’s a lot going on, so be sure to take notes in a way that’s easy to access later. Whether you write notes out or type them on a laptop, jot down three key takeaways and any follow-up questions you may have for the speaker. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or hang around after a session. Snag business cards, and if you don’t get a chance to ask your question in person, you can always follow up electronically later.

Social events are the perfect opportunity to connect with people in a more relaxed setting. Network as much as you can on your own terms. If crowds make you uneasy, ask for one-on-one meetings later. And engage in active listening—it can often be more beneficial to listen than to talk. Harness your quiet power by asking thoughtful questions, and listen carefully to how others respond.

After the meeting, use those business cards and new social media connections. Before a week goes by, follow up with everyone you met. If there’s someone you want to build a relationship with, directly after the initial meeting is the best time to set up another meeting.

At your next meeting, give a talk about something you learned. Please spread our new knowledge, and your colleagues will reciprocate the next time they go to one of our great events.

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