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The best information and leaders in our field convene at the National Council Conference every year. Tap into the conversation and explore real-world solutions year-round.

Ali Siemianowski

Communication Specialist, National Council for Behavioral Health

How to Make the Most out of Your NatCon16 Experience

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In a recent interview with Harvard Business Review, Susan Cain, author of the New York Times best-seller, Quiet, and a record-smashing TED talk , shared advice for introverts to the make the most of a conference. To a self-identified introvert, large crowds can be exhausting. But, whether you identify as an introvert, an extrovert or somewhere in between, the thought of networking for three days straight can be intimidating.

It doesn’t mean you need to avoid conferences. Often, conferences like NatCon16 are just what you need to step outside the everyday grind, find inspiration and engage with peers.

So, how do you prepare to have the best conference experience?


You will always enjoy an experience more if it’s something you are interested in. Consider what you want to learn or what would be most helpful to bring back to your organization. Flip through the Final Program to check out all the NatCon16 tracks and sessions. With 20 different tracks, there is something for everyone, so it can be overwhelming if you don’t take the time to plan. Because the tracks are not rigid, you can pick and choose to create your own path. Learn what’s new this year and take advantage of the opportunities to deep dive into a variety of topics with subject matter experts.

Start the conversation

With more than 4,000 attendees, NatCon16 offers ample opportunities to connect with new people. You can seek out programs that are tailored to the stage you’re at in your career like Young Leaders and Seasoned Leaders, or join other “newbees” at the Hive. How can you break the ice? Arm yourself with what Susan calls “conversation-starting questions.” These questions can be related to a particular speaker or session, or about the work you do. It’s easier to think through conversation-starters before you get there.

Take a break

Allow yourself to take a break and recharge. Step away from the hustle and bustle and take the time to collect your thoughts and process what you’ve learned. It will make it easier to bring that new knowledge home. At NatCon16, take time to stroll through our Solutions Pavilions, watch a documentary at the Film Festival or reclaim your solitude by taking a break at one of our charging stations.

Define success

A successful conference experience will look different for everyone. Are you coming to NatCon16 to learn how to better serve those affected by addictions? Maybe you want to want to understand how technology is improving care or how to position yourself as a leader. You may not be able to talk to everybody or attend all the sessions you hope to, but set personal goals to define your own success.

Oh, and don’t forget to put Susan Cain’s thought leader talk on your “must do” list – she will be bringing her ideas to you in person this year at NatCon16. Register today.

Tell us, do you have any tips and trick for preparing for a conference? We’d love to hear from you, tweet at us @nationalcouncil using hashtag #NatCon16.