Networking Lessons Learned at Congress

December 1, 2013, Department, by Zack Breeding

A first-time Congress attendee shares networking lessons learned and applied in Houston.“You may know what you know, but how do you learn what you don’t know you don’t know? THAT is where networking is key, and what better place to learn than at the NRPA Congress and Exposition.” This was the way my professors sold me on taking a week off of school to go to Houston. From the Expo Hall to various education sessions and the Leisure Research Symposium, I have to say they were right. While my program does a good deal to help us become better networkers, it takes an event like Congress to put networking to the real test. 

As was taught in a networking session I attended at Congress, little conversations matter. When walking around the Expo Hall, I felt as if I should talk to each vendor there and learn a bit about different products and services. While it is easy to stay where you are and do what you have always done, in order to have top-notch programs, it is important to grow and develop. Even vendors selling similar products had a variety of designs and ideas of how things work. I saw the same when I stepped out from the things I knew and went to different education sessions and research presentations. At one I was even able to meet the author of some of my textbooks, Dr. Deb Jordan. 

Through the Take a Student to Lunch Program, I was paired with Mark Young. Mr. Young has worked in recreation policy since before I was born. Through taking part in this simple networking opportunity, I was able to learn about and join the Park Resources Network of NRPA. Thanks to NRPA Connect, I will be able to discuss issues with others in this network, the Young Professionals Network and other groups in preparation for next year’s Congress as well as other functions like the Legislative Forum in March.

William Zacues “Zack” Breeding is a junior at the University of Mississippi pursuing a double major in Park and Recreation Management and Public Policy Leadership.