Exchange Matters / January 13, 2020

Attend the National Meeting Like a Pro

By Erica McNamara, Program Manager, Communications and Development

The 2020 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting is right around the corner. With more than 100 speakers and 50 dynamic panels of programming over the course of four days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. How will you mingle with speakers? What should you do during breaks? What will you bring?

All good questions, exchangemakers! Lucky for you, we’re sharing our ultimate National Meeting game plan. Whether this is your first National Meeting or your 20th, here are some tips and tricks to maximize your experience:



  • Review the agenda. See who’s speaking and what sessions you’d like to attend. This will help you connect face-to-face with specific people, learn more about a particular topic, and be everywhere you want to be.
  • Practice introducing yourself. Whether you’re standing in line for coffee or attending a session, you’re going to meet new people. Polish your introduction to have your pitch ready to go. Bonus points if you can do this in one sentence.
  • Bring your business cards. Yes, people still use business cards in real life. The National Meeting is a great opportunity to grow your networks and meet new people. Pro tip: you’ll collect dozens of cards during the event, so jot down quick notes to help remember each person and key conversation points once you’re back in the office.
  • Pack a portable charger. Whether you’re taking notes, tweeting, snapping photos, checking emails, or calling an Uber, chances are you’ll use your phone a lot at the National Meeting.


  • Sit up front. You’re here to learn and network, so don’t hide in the back. Plus, a front row seat means you’ll see all the slides, get great photos, and really engage with the speakers.
  • Grow your networks. Your friends already know you. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know: talk with speakers you find interesting; take some time to walk through the Exhibit Hall and meet our sponsors, partners, and vendors; ask and answer questions on social media. With 1,000+ attendees from all over the world, you never know who you might meet.
  • Join the online conversation. Tweet or post your favorite sessions, snap photos, share quotes and session takeaways, tag speakers and use our hashtags (#GlobalTies2020 and #FacesOfExchange) to help shape the National Meeting narrative in realtime.
  • Be kind and say thank you. Delays happen, but everyone is working hard to check you in, set up food, turn over the room, and making sure you’re in the right place. Treat others the way you want to be treated.


  • Share the knowledge. Take home flyers and business cards, share notes with your staff, and prepare to wow your friends and colleagues with National Meeting takeaways.
  • Talk about it. Write a blog post, share photos, post on social media, and follow up with people you met during the programming (this is where the notes on the business cards come in).
  • Fill out the evaluation survey. Now that you’re an official National Meeting pro, help make the next one even better by sending your feedback.
  • Save the Date. Mark your calendars for the 2021 National Meeting (March 17-20) and get ready to do it all over again!