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Conf 2015 Recap-Networking
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AAERT 2015 Conference
by Tina Schaeffer, CER, CET

So why did you attend the 2015 AAERT Conference? Was it to get together with old friends, network with new ones, or to learn about the industry? Whatever your reason, you'll always find the AAERT conferences inspiring and full of exciting news. This year it was exhilarating to see so many new faces. There were several new members who never attended an AAERT conference as well as long-time members returning after a long hiatus.

The ability to network is one of the most crucial skills anyone in this industry can have. How else will you find out what's new and improved, what others are doing, meet up with old friends or meet new ones?

As we learned in the Meyers-Briggs/Keirsey Temperament session, we are unique individuals with a possible sixteen different personality types. In terms of networking, all personality types can benefit by heeding several bits of advice. That's according to Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and author of "Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities that Distinguish Outstanding Professionals."

Here's what Ms. Whitmore says you need to do to make the most of networking opportunities and garner valuable connections.

• Manage your expectations. If you're attending some kind of networking event, you don't have to put pressure on yourself to meet a lot of people. One quality conversation is more beneficial than 20 superficial ones.
• Plan some ice-breakers ahead of time. Shy people, in particular, have a hard time starting conversations with strangers, but doing a bit of homework before an event can help anyone come up with good questions to ask. Find out who will be attending, and research the people you want to meet by looking them up on Google or LinkedIn [in our case, on the AAERT Web site].
• Set a time limit. Instead of committing to stay for the duration of an event, tell yourself you'll only hang out for an hour [in our case, one day of the conference].
• Ask for an introduction. This tip is a good one for anyone, regardless of your personality type. Find someone who knows everyone and ask that person to connect you with whomever it is you want to meet.
• Practice empathetic listening. Put yourself in another person's shoes, and listen with the goal of learning something. When you ask the person a question, listen with the intent to understand and also to establish a connection with that person, because people tend to remember people they have a connection with.
• Share personal stories. Your personal stories are what make you interesting and memorable, so practice talking about yourself and what you do.
• Practice every day. The more you network, the easier it gets, but you have to keep doing it.

According to Tina Schaeffer, CER, CET, transcriber/manager extraordinaire, networking requires going beyond your comfort zone. Try these tips on for size:

• Attend the next AAERT conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona is a wonderful vacation spot and AAERT conferences in this area are typically well attended.
• Set a goal to meet two or three new people. I guarantee you'll make friends for a lifetime. I finally got to meet several transcribers who contract with us. It was nice to put a name with a face.
• Newbies. Make it a priority to talk to someone who has never attended a conference. This year, we had one new attendee travel all the way from Brazil, South America!
• Carry your business card with you. And hand them out like candy.
• Enjoy catching up with old friends. Between networking with new friends, don't forget to catch up with old ones.
• Don't make a beeline for your seat. I have to work hard not to do this myself.
• Don't sit by people you know. Though it is great to catch up with old friends, make sure you make time to sit with folks you don't know.
• Get active. This year's conference theme was "Taking Charge of Change." If you'd like to see great things happen in our industry, then join a committee. It's a great way to take charge of change.
• Be friendly and approachable. Your body language and smile can speak volumes.
It's fun to get together once a year and reminisce with old friends, meet new friends, and find out what's new and exciting in our ever-changing industry.

Thank you to all our members (and nonmembers) who attended this year's conference. Your AAERT enthusiasm is what made the 2015 conference a success!

See you next year.

Tina Schaeffer, CER, CET began her legal career in 1997.  She's been active in AAERT as a Director, certification chair, served on numerous committees, served as the assistant executive director and has presented at several conferences.  Tina is currently employed with a national reporting and transcription company.



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