We are a week away from the NSMA Awards Weekend and Convergence Seminar in North Carolina. I’ve attended this event several times in the past when it was located in Salisbury, North Carolina. It’s recently moved to a new location in Winston-Salem, but the idea behind attending remains the same. In my opinion, industry seminars are perhaps the most effective networking tool in any growing broadcaster’s arsenal. For those attending this year’s event or any other event in the future, here’s a guide based on my experiences and mistakes.
When You Should Arrive: The event kicks off on Saturday evening with a welcome dinner/mixer and wraps up Monday night. In the past, I’ve arrived Friday evening and spent the time leading up to the dinner golfing, sightseeing, or just sleeping off the jet lag. This year I’m flying in Saturday morning to avoid paying for an extra night in my Air BNB. In a perfect world, I’d recommend coming in on Friday, but as long as you take an early flight, either way is fine.
Events: The welcome dinner, which used to be an outdoor barbeque event, is the first big event of the weekend. Since it moved to Winston-Salem, it’s become a bit more formal, but from what I understand still pretty relaxed. It’s a great opportunity to make introductions and get comfortable for the events to come.
Sunday evening features the Legacy Night Panel Discussion. It’s another banquet style event with great food, relationship building opportunities, and a great panel of industry heavyweights. Past discussions have included the influence of the Boston Globe and the life of Stuart Scott.
The final day, Monday, features the Convergence Seminar in the morning/afternoon and the Hall of Fame Banquet in the evening. The seminar is a great chance to learn from some of the best and brightest talents in the business. This year’s roster of speakers includes the great Doc Emrick, Wes Durham, and many other truly great broadcasters. This seminar is useful for broadcasters of all ages but especially for students and young broadcasters. Many of the friends I’ve made at past seminars remain some of my best friends in the business.
Lodging and Transportation: The official hotel for the weekend is the Winston-Salem Marriott. There are many advantages of staying right in the thick of things. It’s comfortable, convenient, and you never know who you might run into in an elevator. On the other hand, you can save a lot of money staying in budget hotels or, my personal favorite, Air BNB’s.
It’s pretty easy to do everything without renting a car if you so choose. The NSMA provides free shuttle service to and from the airport if you fly into the Greensboro Airport. If you want to rent a car, it certainly can make things more convenient, especially if you use your downtime to explore the area.
Miscellaneous: Most of the dress code is business casual, so if you have khakis and a polo you’re in good shape. The exception to that rule is the Hall of Fame Banquet. If you’re planning on attending — and I don’t know why you wouldn’t — you should bring a suit and tie. I didn’t do this my first time and got a lot of long sideways looks.
Also, it’s an easy drive to Durham if you want to spring for a rental car. In the past, I was able to tour campuses of both Duke and North Carolina and was able to walk around inside of Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was pretty darn cool.
If you are considering attending for the first time and have questions, feel free to contact me via email on the contact page or tweet me @Radio_Logan. See you in Winston-Salem.