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Money-saving strategies for attending the ATA conference November 18, 2015

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
1 comment so far

Every year people complain about the cost of the conference, but I find I can’t afford not to go. The new business and contacts it generates for me and the pleasure of being around like-minded people who get me make it one of the best weeks of the year. I was inspired to write this after reading a recent post on The Simple Dollar entitled 12 Strategies for Saving Money on Convention or Conference Trips. Here are my tips for saving money for or at the ATA conference, some of them inspired by the article and some from past experience at our conferences.

1) Get a roommate or several. I always stay at the conference hotel, because it allows me to go up to my room if I need a break and it is where a lot of my friends stay. Even if you stay at a hotel that is nearby, ATA offers a roommate referral service every year. I had booked a single king bed room this year when that was all that was left and was approached shortly before the conference asking if I would consider a roommate with a roll-away bed. Instead of paying $800 for my room, it only cost me $400. In past years I have also been known to have a couple roommates. The Kent State students always sleep 4 to a room. Having a roommate really saves money.

2) Save throughout the year. The conference generally runs me about $1500 including registration fee, hotel room, flight and meals. By putting a little bit of money aside every month it isn’t as painful. It also helps to register as soon as registration opens, book your flight a month or two later and then just deal with hotel and meals at the conference. By spreading out the cost it isn’t as painful.

3) Plan ahead and register early. This ties in with number 2. By registering by the Early Bird Deadline you can save some money, because the price spikes after the deadline. Also, flights are cheaper the longer out you book them.

4) Take advantage of the Welcome Reception, breakfast, and coffee breaks. The Welcome Reception always offers some food stations with nibbles and beverages (this year they cut it down to one, but every little bit helps). Even if you are staying at a nearby hotel as a conference attendee you are allowed (if not expected) to fill up on pastries, fruit and oatmeal every morning. Instead of hitting Starbucks or a nearby coffee shop make sure you hit the coffee breaks for a coffee or tea. I learned a tip from Marian Greenfield to bring my own ATA mug with me so that I can bring one to go into the next session.

5) Attend exhibitor parties and client dinners. Some of the software vendors, such as Wordfast, have parties which are quite popular. Back in the day, Trados also used to have a great desserts party. I even won a software package there once. Ah, the good old days… Pro tip: get there as early as you can to make sure you can get some food. Also, see if your clients are having a get-together for their vendors. Even if they are just buying a drink at the hotel bar that will still save some money.

6) Set a spending budget for your business. I used to always buy one dictionary a year at the conference. The conference is also a great place to save on translation software. Most companies announce their special conference prices ahead of time, so if you are looking to buy a new TEnT or upgrade an existing one this is the time to do it.

7) Ask for a refrigerator and consider low cost options for lunches and dinners. If you are on a special diet, have to refrigerate medication, like real coffee creamer, or have leftovers a refrigerator is a must. Consider buying food and keeping it in the room for affordable meals. The conference in Miami was located across from a Whole Foods, which many people took advantage of. The concierge also offered me a refrigerator when I checked it, but booking one ahead ensures one is available.

8) Buy beer or a bottle and have drinks in your room. I had never thought to do this before, but it makes sense. The best place to socialize at the conference is the hotel bar, but if you are on a budget consider inviting some colleagues up to your room for a get-together. I might do this one night next year. My roommate bought a bottle of wine, and we had a nice drink together the first night of the conference in our room, which was nice. Just be sure to bring a wine bottle opener if you do.

9) Pack a water bottle. I do this for every trip I go on, but it came in handy this year because water was not as abundant as it has been in the past. Not to mention that the in-room bottles of water the hotel “provided” for us were priced at $6.50.

10) Write out a packing list. This year I thought I had forgotten to pack my toothbrush. Luckily I was able to call Housekeeping for a new one, but I still had to tip the Housekeeper who delivered it. I found my toothbrush in my suitcase the next day. If I had packed it with my toiletries like I normally do I wouldn’t have had trouble finding it. So pack based on your list and be aware where you stow things. A checklist that you prepare a month or week ahead of time ensures you don’t forget anything when you pack your suitcase.

11) Pack redundantly. Always pack a day or two of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on bag in case your suitcase gets lost! Make sure you have necessities like medication and contact lens solution as well. I remember getting stuck in Chicago due to weather on the way home from Seattle and having to beg a fellow traveler for some contact lens solution to put in a Dixie cup for my contacts.

12) Pack carefully based on the location and predicted weather. In addition to being surprised by just how cold it was in our air-conditioned hotel, several people were surprised by just how hot it was outside in Miami this year. Bring appropriate clothes, but also remember a shawl or sweater for the conference rooms. I was completely unprepared for the colder weather in Phoenix and had to buy several pants and shirts at a clothing store. Also, try your clothes on before packing them in case you gained some weight this year. We sit a lot in comfy clothes and might not be aware that our business casual clothes might not fit anymore. Also, remember that it can get cold in November in colder climates and bring a coat.

13) Consider presenting a session. Presenters are usually given a discount on the conference registration. Every little bit helps, and you’ll be boosting your presence and sharing your invaluable knowledge with others.

14) Be happy our conference is so affordable. People always complain about the cost of the conference, but conferences in other industries are often double or triple what we pay. Even with the price going up so much this year due to the Board decision for the conference to be self-sustaining it is still worth it. Consider everything we get for the price of the conference: the preliminary and final programs and daily updates; the conference app; name badges and ribbons; language dots to identify your languages; breakfast and coffee breaks; ice water (whether in the session room or in the hallway); the Welcome Reception and a drink; networking events like the Networking Brainstorm, Afterhours Cafe, division get-togethers and Resume Exchange; the Closing Reception; the Conference Dance; the Exhibit Hall; 175 sessions to choose from and enough rooms to hold them; division meetings; audiovisual equipment for the meeting rooms and the main ballroom; recording services for the eConference DVD; free wifi this year (!); the on-site ATA staff to ensure everything is running smoothly and temporary workers to staff the Registration booths; and probably a bunch of other things of which we aren’t even aware. Not a bad trade-off for the $485 registration fee. I do, however, dearly miss the chair massages in the Exhibit Hall!!

If you have a money-saving tip or I missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.

ATA conference recap November 9, 2015

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.

IMAG4901Today is the first day back after the ATA conference. I’m moving a little slowly, but I am up way earlier than I would usually be up (probably because I felt like going to bed at 9 PM last night but pushed it until 11). The first couple days back are always kind of anti-climatic, and I have some malaise, missing all the action and seeing all the wonderful people.

The conference this year was held in Miami. I didn’t see much of the city. IMAG4885I have traveled too much this year (having had vacations in Iceland, Charleston and New York City), so I decided to make it a short trip and just focus on the conference. Also, I just rescued a cat from a neighbor’s backyard and have been stressed out trying to integrate him with my cat and dog. I flew in on Wednesday night (missing the Buddies Welcome Newbies event and Welcome Reception, which I was sad about) and flew out Sunday morning. So I didn’t hit the beach or venture too far from the hotel this year, and that was okay. I was able to focus on sessions and on IMAG4904catching up with colleagues.

The hotel was located on the river, which was nice because I wasn’t tempted to hit the beach. We were able to watch yachts, pleasure boats and shipping barges float through and sail under the high MetroMover bridge and the drawbridges. Traffic in Miami is intense, so I was happy to rely on the MetroMover, taxis and Uber when I did venture out.

I had booked a room by myself, but was talked into having a roommate at the last minute. IMG_20151105_083740She ordered a roll-away bed and tucked it away in the corner. The two of us did not see much of each other (she was usually asleep by the time I got in), but she was an extremely pleasant roommate. If you are afraid of the cost of the conference, having a roommate can defray that cost. ATA IMAG4918offers a roommate referral service every year. This year it was in blog form, which may not be the best format, because I could not delete my original post and had received several inquiries about being a roommate after booking my king bed room. If anyone has a better solution please let me know so I can pass it on.

Wednesday night was spent catching up with friends in the bar over drinks and a quick flatbread. It was an early night for me though, because it had been such a rough week and I needed IMAG4880a good night’s sleep to fully enjoy the conference. Thursday night was the German Language Division event at the Intercontinental Hotel. I had toyed with the idea of not attending, because it is expensive and usually too crowded for my tastes (I can get a little claustrophobic). The venue this year was really dark, but it was very roomy and I found a table and sat down with some friends to catch up. The constantly circulating trays of appetizers (tuna tartare, beef empanadas, ceviche, caprese skewers, a Caesar salad wedge and some meat ball) filled us up.

OneIMAG4870 of the highlights for me is quickly becoming a tradition – a visit to a Brazilian churrascaria. I organized a group of 8 on Friday night. We had a couple others join us as the night progressed. The more the merrier I say. We went around the corner to an affordable churrascaria (only $27 not including drinks IMAG4895and dessert when they normally runs around $40) and ate our fill from the salad bar, hot dishes and skewers and skewers of meat. This particular restaurant didn’t have its liquor license, but that’s okay because we were there for the company and the food. Too bad the group of Germans who followed us to the restaurant thought I was joking when I told them there was no alcohol there. They ended up leaving and having a lovely meal elsewhere.

My presentation (Beyond the Basics: Tips for Better Formatting in MS Word) went well, and I received a lot of compliments. I was a little surprised IMAG4902that I finished it so quickly, but that left plenty of time for lots of formatting questions. One thing I did want to say (and it is probably my fault) is that it is probably a good idea to applaud for the speaker before you leave the room. This was not the first time I witnessed this at this conference. Like I said, it was probably my fault presentationbecause I tend to be embarrassed by applause, but it also happened in the session directly after mine. We aren’t trained speakers, so we are not trained to pause for applause. Please make sure you do so to thank the presenter.

The only true criticism I had about the conference was not having enough seating for breakfast and not announcingIMAG4915 the lack of tote bags early enough that some attendees weren’t surprised by the news (a move I applaud, BTW), but I think overall it was an excellent conference. The seating in the Regency Ballroom was comfy and offered a good view of the podium. I attended three fantastic medical translation sessions on the first day, attended several other sessions on project manager-translator relations, financial translation and PDFs, was able to take a break to hit the pool and to have a leisurely lunch with colleagues at the uniquely named restaurant El Cartel, and got to see just about everyone I wanted to see.

I spent Saturday afternoon in the bar and had the best networking IMAG4910experience of the conference. I met some amazing colleagues who I did not know through several I did, and we all ended up friending each other on Facebook at the end. We had planned on having a post-presentation drink and attending the Closing Session, but it was so enjoyable that we just stayed and stayed and stayed. I look forward to getting to know them better this year. You all rock!

Sspringconaturday night I went out with my core group of girlfriends and finally got a chance to see and talk with Corinne McKay, our President-Elect. I’m sure she is going to do an excellent job! We went to a Cuban restaurant that was loud and dark, but it had great food and the company was excellent. I had my first Rum Chata as well as a Cafe IMAG4916Cubano and some amazing plaintains, lobster and shrimp.

While filling out the Overall Survey in the airport I realized that I did not attend a single special event. This surprised me, and I intend to change that next year. The organizers offer something for everyone, and IMAG4888I hope that those of you who attended found a special event that you enjoyed.

And now it is time to buckle down and get back to work. I had some work pile up while I was at the conference. Isn’t that the way it always is? I hope those of you who attended had a great time at the conference. I urge those of you who have not yet attended to consider attending it next year. It’s in San Francisco and the hotel is in a fun location, near the Ferry Building, Chinatown and the Tadich Grill. The conference is a highlight of the year for me and everyone else who attends. It reenergizes me and makes me love my job even more. I’m just going to really miss the freshly squeezed passion fruit juice.

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, here is the ATA’s official video recap of the conference.

Quick tip for the upcoming conference October 30, 2015

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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From today’s ATA Newsbriefs:

Bring your own tote
The ATA Conference is eliminating the conference tote. But don’t worry! There will be a Goodie Bag available for collecting swag in the Exhibit Hall. Want something a little sturdier? A “professional version” of the old conference tote will be for sale at the ATAware table.

I think this is a great idea, because most of us have been recycling our bags after the conference and there won’t be mix-ups since the totes will no longer look alike. Plus, I’ve been bringing this one with me for several years now.

See you all in Miami.

My impressions of the 2014 ATA Conference November 10, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.

IMAG1498I got back from the ATA Conference last night. I wanted to jot down my thoughts before I drown in the translations that await me in the next few weeks. I drove this year, so I had six hours to ruminate on the conference when I wasn’t talking to people on my phone to stay awake. My eyes started seriously crossing about half an hour from home.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. Once again, there were a ton of people I wish I had been able to spend more time with. I made sure I never ate alone and took the time to talk to the people I could. I even closed down the bar on Saturday, IMAG1525which is something I haven’t done in probably four years. I simply made catching up with the people I care about my priority this year.

One highlight of the conference for me was skipping out on a morning session and spending an hour in Julius Meinl with two German colleagues – one I knew well and one I had just met. We enjoyed our Melange (one espresso shot served in a large coffee cup topped with steamed milk and milk foam) and chatted about the industry, our work, politics and various other topics. I also got to savor the most authentic Apfelstrudel I have eaten in the U.S. The crust was as paper-thin as the ones I enjoyed in Austria when I lived there. It was worth blowing the diet for!IMAG1523

My panel presentation with Sandra Alboum, Terena Bell and Ted Wozniak, Why Won’t You Work For Me, was another highlight for me. I think Terena’s idea of getting rid of the table (or as she called it “the barriers”) was an excellent idea that set the tone of the entire presentation. Our focus was on making contact at conferences, because Sandra and Terena have both attended the conference looking to hire translators and not been able to make those connections. We wanted to discuss the possible stumbling blocks and IMG_0156offer concrete suggestions to enable agencies and translators to work together. The two main take-aways (I hope) are find a way to make yourself stand out and be memorable and make your interactions a bit more personal. Don’t simply just walk up to someone at a booth, hand them your business card and walk away. Talk with them a bit, tell them who you are and what you do and ask for their card as well. And then follow up by sending an email referring to the conversation.IMAG1469 You will get a better response with “I saw this article and thought you might be interested in it based on our discussion at the 2014 ATA Conference” than “Attached please find my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.” We have had wonderful feedback from everyone in attendance and hope to present this again with a more moderated (and longer) format to get through all of the points we wanted to discuss before opening it up to questions and discussion with the floor.IMAG1479

I attended several sessions that were very good (including ergonomics, HIPAA and one in my language pair on marketing translation); however, my absolutely favorite session was Joe McClinton’s Untangling German Legalese: Talkin’ Like The Supremes. He not only clearly explained the differences between the various “Supreme Courts” in Germany and shared lots of terminology, but he showed us how he breaks down complicated sentences and citations. It reassured me to find out my terminology is identical to his – even down to the usage of parentheses in citations instead of translating all the Absatz, Paragraph, Satz/Halbsatz stuff that Germans so love to cite.

IMAG1516The Freelance Juggling Act: Tips for Living the Life You Want panel discussion with Eve Bodeaux, Corinne McKay, Marianne Reiner and Andrew Morris was entertaining and was a great way to start the conference. Andrew’s idea of a work-life balance of 85% work and 15% life made me feel much better about my choice to favor work over life most of the time. It is still a good idea to ensure you have some free time and down time, because I personally know two excellent translators who have burnt out. So work-life balance is very important. You can find a lot of good background info and Ted talks on the subject at Eve’s website.

There were so many excellent sessions on offer that I had to make tough choices and miss some excellent presentations. As a result, I ordered the eConference recordings. I look forward to IMAG1540revisiting Joe’s presentation as well as watching lots of others that I really wanted to attend but missed (such as Trisha Kovacic-Young’s Translating for the Insurance Industry, Judy Jenner’s Quote This, Sanne LeGier’s Navigating the International Payment Jungle, and Riccardo Schiffiano’s presentation on XBench – just to name a few!).

The hotel was centrally located, and I was able to enjoy wonderful meals with colleagues and friends. From deep dish pizza and stuffed spinach bread at Lou Malnati’s while staying Tuesday night IMAG1509with my newbie last year and now good friend Joe, soup and salad at Howells & Hood, the German Language Division dinner at Bar Toma, dinner with eight good friends on Saturday night at Quay to the most amazing ramen at The Slurping Turtle, each meal was enjoyable and memorable. Chicago definitely has lots of culinary things to offer! Not to mention the hotel bar’s Old Fashioned Apple Pie Moonshine. I drank many of these with various colleagues. I am going back soon.

There were so many people I wish I had had time to catch up with. I always wish the conference was longer, but each time I am happy it is over when it is because I am exhausted. IMAG1530The conference was – as always – a total rush and a huge motivation. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

The only downer was my friend being pickpocketed on Friday night. Her wallet was in the coat pocket over her right breast that she was wearing while we were waiting to go to dinner in the hotel bar. They/he/she were definitely pros. IMAG1536They somehow knew exactly which pocket to pick, and her credit card and debit cards were maxed out within 30 minutes to the tune of almost $8000, leaving her without her cards, but also without her driver’s license, insurance cards, or cash. She was understandably upset and left a day early. No one noticed anything untoward and they knew exactly how to wipe out the cards before anyone could do anything. My tweet prompted Starwood Hotel headquarters to get involved, and I am very impressed with how they responded. But the fact remains that when we are at the conference we may feel very insular, but the hotel is a public place that anyone IMAG1491can enter. Attendees must remain vigilant of their belongings at all times. It also made me aware that I shouldn’t carry everything together and should only take the bare minimum with me at all times.

Nevertheless, I have a wonderful memory of the conference. My body is sore, my feet ache, and I went to bed early and slept really well last night. I look forward to doing it again next year. I just hope they bring back the massage chairs! See you in Miami in November 2015!

In case you missed it, here are some highlights of the conference (featuring, among other people, my newbie last year Joe, who was a Buddy this year). Derek Platt did a great job recording the conference for posterity and editing it into a coherent and entertaining video. Jost’s fish joke alone makes the video worth watching!

Goodbye to you September 8, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Random musings.
1 comment so far

IMAG1155I just received an email from Freek at Intrans Book Service. After twenty five years of supplying translators with specialized dictionaries he has made the difficult decision to shut down his business as of December 31 2014. He has already stopped importing new books and will be selling off his stock at http://www.intransbooks.com.

IMAG1154I have bought many of my dictionaries from Freek over the years – both at the conference and through the website. He was also the only exhibitor willing to attend the Mid-Year Conference of the ATA Medical Division I organized. I made it a goal every year when I started doing business in the U.S. to buy at least one dictionary a year from Intrans. However, at some point I had bought all the important dictionaries and no longer needed them. I have been relying on electronic dictionaries and the Internet for a while now. I guess this is just a sign of the times. In light of the Internet both in terms of terminology research and the low-bid world of online suppliers it no longer made good business sense, and I completely understand his decision even though we will miss him. I take comfort in knowing I will have my library for years to come and will think of him every time I reach for my Dietl/Lorentz or Langenscheidt Medizin.

Thanks for all the wonderful years of service, Freek. We will miss your smiling face and your sister’s cookies at the Annual Conference this year. I wish you nothing but the best.

Ramping up for the ATA Conference November 5, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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I am flying out to San Antonio tomorrow for the 54th Annual ATA Conference. After a bit of a snafu with my cat sitters (they just got a cat, and the two cats instantly disliked each other, necessitating an emergency trip back to my house tonight), Plan B is lined up to pick up my house keys tomorrow early enough to ensure I am up and get out to vote before I have to head out to the airport.

I’ve booked an airport shuttle (GoShuttle.com) to transport me between the airport and hotel and the boarding passes are printed out. My flight details are stored, my updated resume and profile are uploaded to my profile on the conference mobile app, and my presentation is printed out. Trados Studio is now installed on my laptop so that I can finish a translation for a client. My clothes are stacked and ready to be thrown into the suitcase tomorrow morning (the dog gets bent out of shape if I take the suitcase out the night before). Why is it that I try to do a ton of things the day before I leave for a trip? Human nature I guess.

I am bummed that all of my divisions (3!) are holding their division dinners from 7-9 on Thursday night. I chose to go with the German Language Division, but hope the Medical Division and Language Technology Divisions have successful dinners as well.

I have some meals planned with my newbie as well as with some fellow translators, so that is something to look forwards to. I look forward to seeing many of you there. If you see me in the hallway in San Antonio please say hi!

ATA and Pinterest September 5, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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I still haven’t been able to generate much interest in Pinterest, but some of you may enjoy learning about this. Be sure to check out the ATA 54th Annual Conference’s Pinterest board when planning your trip (As Mary David said on the ATA newbies listserv, “don’t forget to schedule in some time to go sightseeing!”). I have my hotel room reserved and have a roommate lined up. Now I just need to book a flight. See y’all in San Anton!

Newbies and buddies at the ATA Conference in San Antonio August 14, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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Today I learned about a fun program for people attending the ATA Annual Conference for the very first time. I have been presenting the Tips for First-Time Attendees session since 2006 in New Orleans. It is always the first session of the conference (on Thursday). Knowing how overwhelming and intimidating the Welcome Reception on Wednesday night can be for newcomers I’ve always felt bad that my session wasn’t able to give them tips on how to navigate it. Last year’s webinar allowed me to finally address this, but Helen Eby and Jamie Hartz came up with a brilliant idea to fill that niche. The “Buddies Welcome Newbies” event will pair up first-time attendees (“newbies”) with seasoned attendees (“buddies”) to give them a friendly face at the conference. The event is planned for Wednesday night from 5:15 to 6:00 – just before the Welcome Reception! The event will focus on pairing people up and teaching them valuable networking skills they can use during the conference. More information will be sent out soon. I plan on volunteering as a buddy, and I hope my fellow seasoned attendees will join me.

#ata53: Common German Terms That Make Native English Speakers Want to Bang Their Heads Against the Wall November 26, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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In this workshop-style session a panel of experts discussed some of their favorite “thorny enemies,” that is, German terms that are difficult to pin down and frequently mistranslated. Participants were invited to contribute their own “thorny enemies,” and everybody threw out suggestions for the best translations for these. This session had a lot of potential, with a stellar panel of German to English and English to German translators, but I was somewhat disappointed with the final result. The “contributions from the audience” part kind of made it a free-for-all, with people shouting out suggestions. And all of the suggestions were right depending on the context. Some examples included: Absatz/absetzen, abwickeln, Bereich, betrieblich, Es ist zu + verb, Fach- + anything, grundsätzlich, im Rahmen der/des, kompetent, maßgeblich/maßgebend, plausibel, qualifiziert, Sachverhalt, Wahrnehmung/wahrnehmen and wobei.

The session was amusing, but I don’t feel I learned anything new. Then again, that wasn’t the point of the session. This kind of session would be a difficult one to conceive and implement, and I appreciate that the presenters banded together to come up with it.

#ata53: Orientation Session for First-Time Conference Attendees November 15, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
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Since I was the presenter and not an attendee I don’t have much to say about this session at the ATA conference – other to say that you can watch it on the ATA webinar page (for FREE!) and prepare yourself for next year’s conference. Sarah Dillon told me she is a huge fan, having listened to the webinar a whopping 7 times before the conference, and numerous other attendees came up to me thanking me for presenting the session. If you are nervous about attending the conference, this webinar is a great way to prepare for it mentally as well as physically (I include tips on how to write a resume, what your business cards should have on them, how to dress, networking tips, etc.).

As the abstract for the session states:

Is this your first time attending ATA’s Annual Conference? Do not be shy-we would love to meet you! The speakers will provide tips to help you get the most out of the conference and answer your questions. This will be a great opportunity to network with other first-time attendees from around the country and around the world!

We always start off the session at the conference with a five minute “introduce yourself to someone you don’t know” so that everyone knows at least one new person by the time they leave. So be sure to watch the webinar and prepare yourself for next year’s conference in San Antonio. We look forward to seeing you!


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