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09.18.12Martha Golea

Make Time to Learn

Football, pumpkin spice lattes, and changing leaves are some of the greatest parts of fall, but for water enthusiasts like us, we are only focused on one thing: The WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition, the largest urban-water efficiency conference of its kind in the world.

Why is this such a big deal to us? I’m glad you asked.

Fellow bloggers Richard, Alan, and I would were discussing that just the other day. We’d like to share with you what we’re looking forward to and why you should be excited about it, too.

MG: Richard, you’ve attended every WSI since the beginning, correct? Why do you keep going back?

RR: I think this is one of the premier water conferences in the world.  It has consistently attracted more people each year and most importantly the people I interact with at the conference are interested in conserving water. This conference really focuses on water savings.  As a result the attendees come from various disciplines of water and we start to develop real collaboration for water savings.

I also know a large majority of the people I met at the first conference keep coming back year after year and we are able to share our successes and learn from each other’s challenges.

MG: Alan, this will be your first year at WSI. What got you interested in attending?

AH: I wanted to attend last year, but had a scheduling conflict. Being a regular contributor to VCTO has definitely raised my interest level in all things water. And of course being asked to present helped too.

As this is my rookie session for WaterSmart Innovations everything is new and based on the program it might be a little overwhelming. To start   I am amazed at how many learning opportunities are available. In addition to the Carl Ganter, Co-Founder and Director of Circle of Blue, keynote  there are 125 Professional Sessions, 34 Poster Sessions and a screening of Watershed The Movie…which Richard already got to see.

MG: Alan, I agree that it can be overwhelming. There were so many sessions I wanted to see last year but I couldn’t attend ALL of them.

AH: I anticipate the hardest thing will be deciding which of the 125 Professional Sessions to attend. There are only 14 time slots available so I will miss 111 of the sessions! I will be live tweeting the good sessions with the #WSI2012 hash tag and will Storify my favorite session.

RR: What I appreciate is the way the conference is set up. For learning complex subjects there are workshops that last all day or a half day. Then you have two days of 30 minute subjects that spark interest to learn more in the subject area if you are interested after the 30 minute introduction. Then finally on the last day there are longer presentations and panels for more complex discussions. Something for everyone.

MG: What are you looking forward to this year?

AH: The Poster Session is an unfamiliar concept to me. Based on the way it is described on the website it sounds like a live version of an Infographic.  The posters combine text and graphics to present information visually about the subject matter quickly. The neat twist here is the viewer gets to study the information at their own pace and then discuss it with the author one on one.  If the posters are good I will have my iPhone handy and you will be able to find them in an album on Facebook and on a new board on Pinterest.

MG: I’m excited about the poster sessions, too.

RR: I actually gained a few good ideas for business the past few years from the poster sessions.

MG: On Wednesday from 1:00 – 1:30 Richard and I will be presenting Social Media: What’s In It For You? And Alan will be there to heckle us. You won’t want to miss that one.

AH: What is your advice for first-timers like me?

MG: Alan, my advice for first-timers would be “talk to strangers”. Last year was my first year in the water industry and felt like a fangirl meeting all these incredible leaders in the industry. I learned so much from the people I met. Even if you’re more advanced, it’s a great place to network.

RR: Schedule ahead some dinners and coffee meetings with people you want to connect with. Sometimes these are the most valuable meetings at the conference. Plan ahead on what you want to see in educational sessions and in the exhibit hall.

MG: Also, take a break when you need to. Don’t get worn out the first day!

RR: The exhibit floor is open all day. So you can take a break from presentations if you get tired of sitting and listening and see the exhibits.

MG: Richard, what has been your favorite takeaway in past years?

RR: Keynote speakers always give me lots to think about for making a difference in the future. They always give me good business ideas.

MG: Charles Fishman was a great keynote speaker last year. He has a very positive, interesting approach to water management. Last year the best thing I learned was from a marketing session: you can’t take a doom and gloom approach to sharing the water message- you need to keep it light so people will listen. And then in his keynote speech, Fishman talked about how we all have an emotional attachment to water. Those two together make a powerful strategy for creating a campaign. I’m looking forward to Carl Ganter from Circle of Blue, this year.

Thus concludes our discussion of the 2012 WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Expo. If you’re curious which sessions we’ll be attending and which booths we’re excited to see, visit our Facebook page for those lists and some more of our chat. If you’ll be attending our social media workshop at the conference, be sure to join the group on LinkedIn for updates.

Tomorrow we’ll have Doug Bennett from the Southern Nevada Water Authority as our guest on #landscapechat. Please join us from 11:00 to 12:00 PT on Twitter. Doug will discuss how innovations in the water industry can help water agencies and landscape/irrigation contractors be more successful and he’ll share some insider info about the WaterSmart conference. These chats are always lively. It’ll be great to hear everyone’s input about how innovations are changing the industry.

 

Of course we’ll be tweeting, updating Facebook, and loading up on blog post ideas during the conference, so chime in. And if you’re a blog reader who’s attending the conference, please introduce yourself!

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Martha Golea

A seasoned communicator and passionate water conservationist, Martha Golea tracks projects in progress and reports on usage of new and exploratory irrigation technology and water management strategies. Martha also regularly contributes content on water management and conservation to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.

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