The following recommendations are based on the NE Regional Conference Planning Committee’s experience, and are offered for anyone else who may be planning or considering holding a regional IMA conference.
1. Start a Year Early – The planning process for this Regional Conference began with a meeting on May 3, 2010 at iMentor Headquarters, a conference cosponsor. Although this was a full year before the date of the final event, the planning committee was very glad they allowed this amount of time – it all was needed!
2. Conduct a Needs Assessment - The first thing the Planning Committee did after that first meeting on May 3, was to develop and send out a Conference Needs Assessment to IMA Members in the NE Region and around the US, and iMentor, Planning Committee members also sent the assessment to their own personal and business contacts. The survey resulted in 48 respondents.
3. Using the Needs Assessment Data - We utilized the Needs Assessment information for three purposes:
- to refine the Conference Project Plan. The Conference Project Plan consisted of the steps we needed to do to bring the conference into reality.
- We also used the needs assessment data to design a conference schedule and content that would address the needs described by assessment respondents. For example, one component of the Assessment was whether respondents would consider being speakers, and if so on what were their topics of interest.
- We then proceeded to develop a conference theme based on information received from prospective presenters. We contacted the prospective presenters, told them the Conference Theme, and asked them if they would be willing to volunteer their services as presenters. If so, we asked them to send in a synopsis of their presentations and the equipment and or supplies that they would need for their presentations. The Presenters conference fees were waived in exchange for volunteering to present.
4. Conference Website Development – Once the conference theme was established and the initial presenters were identified. Celia Morton, an IMA staff Person, began developing the IMA/iMentor Conference Website. The website included the conference registration process, including an online registration feature, and all information pertaining to the conference. This web site proved to bery critical in making the conference a success.
5. Seeking Conference Participants – The IMA/iMentor Conference Planning Committee continued to research organizations in the region, IMA members and iMentor contacts. A “Save the Date” document was developed and was sent out to various mentoring programs within the Northeastern US Region several times prior to the conference date.