The INA Conference Experience
By Louise Dunham, INA 2nd Vice President, Chair, Ethics Committee
INA's Annual Conference - A Personal Experience
INA’s annual conference is a unique experience in our industry, an opportunity to learn and network with top professionals from all aspects of our industry – placement professionals, professional nannies, professional educators and of course the specialty vendors who support our industry. My impressions must of course be prefaced with the obvious; they are mine alone. Some will agree, some will disagree.
I own Placement Solutions, a Melbourne Australia nanny placement agency. The conference for me, since I started attending them in 2010 in San Francisco, is as always preceded by a very long flight. It is 17 hours to your west coast cities with good routing! Conference 2013 in Los Angeles was a different experience for me as I was to be able to bring two of my office staff and our first Placement Solutions nominee for the NOTY award. It was such a pleasure to share this opportunity with my team.
I joined the INA Board in 2013. So for the first time conference was sandwiched between a board meeting either end on Thursday am and Sunday am. Bookending the conference means the INA Board can put out any fires preceding the event and then carefully evaluate and improve after the event, whilst items and issues are fresh in our minds. A short breather and then the board is straight into planning for next year.
I mainly attended workshops in the Agency track, with the exception of workshops by Dr. Jen Berman and Dr. Harvey Karp, at INA’s 29th annual conference. Let me unequivocal here - I thought the conference was fabulous. There was a spectacular line up of experts both from within and outside our industry.
Dr. Berman’s Keynote addressed the oh-so-needed crucial communication skills that are key to a successful nanny and family relationship. She showed us how to ask for what one needs assertively but not aggressively and how to bring up and disarm the potential conflict discussions that can so easily cause us in this industry to be unassertive and meek or overly demanding and aggressive. Dr. Berman shared helped us develop essential skills in a fun, interactive and often humorous session.
Dr. Karp, who I have to admit is completely new to me, was warm and wonderful and generous in his sharing of the 5 S's of baby settling. I too am now a fan! Post-conference Dr. Karp generously offered discounted access for his training to INA members. We at Placement Solutions will be offering this to our gold nannies and newborn care specialists (known as night nannies or maternity nurses in Australia). Conference attendees were plainly a-buzz with excitement having the opportunity to learn from Dr. Karp, and for many he was the highlight of their conference experience.
I moderated an Agency track session called Nail the Placement in 3 Referrals or Less. Four nanny placement specialists generously shared their time and talent with the INA. Panelists included Daryl Camirillo, owner of Stanford Park Nannies, the current APNA agency of the year owner; Jami Dennis, owner of ABC Nannies in Denver; Ryan Jordan, founder of Educated Nannies in Los Angeles; and also including our own Placement Solutions’ Placement Manager, Rachelle Teycheney. The session was well attended and it was fantastic to have an opportunity to really work through placement questions in depth and hear so many quality questions and answers from both the panel and the audience.
Bob King from Legally Nanny again provided plain and simple legal truths from questions pre-submitted before the conference. His advice for new agencies is to get the paperwork right first up rather than waiting until there is a tricky legal problem. He gently but firmly reminded everyone that federal and state laws apply across our industry just like for every other business and you take care of those laws first and make sure you understand your obligations.
Last but never least there were the caucuses which provide an opportunity to provide honest feedback and suggestions for an improved conference experience.These sessions are vitally important to help the conference planning committee work on the next conference. All suggestions both positive and negative are taken on board.
Lest I forget, the real take away from conference over and above everything else are the networking opportunities and the camaraderie amongst old and new friends and acquaintances. This alone makes conference worth attending every year.
I would in closing like to make a special mention of the closed conference Facebook group that enables the networking to start months before conference begins and helps first timers plan and obtain advice. I am very much looking forward to the INA’s 30th Annual Conference gala experience in Cancun Mexico in April 2015.