It’s hard to believe we started holding NFPA Regional Meetings nearly ten years ago. We now have three solid meetings each year, in Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis. The meetings have proven very effective in extending the value of networking beyond those who attend the NFPA Annual Conference and the Industry & Economic Outlook Conference.
So what’s next?
Regional meetings were built around clusters of NFPA membership within driving distance of NFPA’s Milwaukee headquarters, as lunch meetings paired with a speaker. We’ve kept the speaker budget minimal, and as such it’s admittedly been difficult to control content and quality at times. The core value has really been the networking among members and the ability for members and staff to discuss the latest developments at NFPA.
We want to do more of this outreach in new localities. In doing so, we need to be efficient with staff and member time, we need to scale the event to the locality and likely group of members attending, and it’s helpful to supplement the networking with something that prompts discussion. As we look to develop a networking event in another locale, here are some options we’re thinking about:
- The Regional Meeting “Lite” – This would be sort of an NFPA happy hour…drinks and hors d’oeuvres at 4pm in a private or semi-private area of a local watering hole in driving distance of members in the city of choice. No formal speaker, but member introductions and updates, with a chance to do some networking. And one or two NFPA staff to welcome, coordinate and provide the latest updates on NFPA services.
- The Tour de Fluid Power – Who doesn’t like a plant tour? This would be a lunch catered by NFPA at a member’s facilities, with one or two NFPA staff coordinating, and all the usual networking, followed or preceded by a tour of the member’s facilities. (Unlike a similarly named bicycle tour, the Tour de Fluid Power means no PEDs or blood doping necessary to successfully participate.)
- The Back to School Special – Sure, school is almost out, but who cares? We’re planning for the Fall, and there may be a fluid power program or lab tucked away in a community college near you. Let’s find one and do something there, and find out what they’re doing with local students. As a bonus, many community colleges have food service programs, so they often put together a lunch worth traveling for.
- The Karaoke Night – what better way to loosen up for some networking…well, no, forget this one…
Let us know what you think. These events succeed when a member helps champion them at the local level.
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