Five Ways To Form Relationships at Convention

May 16, 2024 by Kristin Carroll
75 Things to Know About Convention: 5 Ways to Form Relationships

The 75th NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, June 25-28 in New Orleans, is approaching – and registration is open. As we get ready for convention, NATA Now is looking back at convention history as well as what to know about NATA 2024.

One of the best parts of convention is the connections ATs can make while there. Building new relationships and connecting with old friends is a key part of the convention experience. While in New Orleans (and even before), ATs have plenty of opportunities to connect.

“Convention brings together ATs from across the nation, and you can’t get that at your state or district meetings,” said NATA Connection and Engagement Committee Chair Dani Moffit, PhD, LAT, ATC. “You get athletic trainers that work in all different facets of the profession. You just never know where those connections are going to be made. By reaching out and meeting people from different parts of the United States, you gain another person you can reach out to.”

Read on for Moffit’s recommendations for building new relationships while in New Orleans.


1. Start a Conversation 

Moffit recommends striking up conversations with those near you, whether that’s in line at registration or while waiting for a session to begin.

“I believe there are six degrees of separation among athletic trainers,” she said. “Until you start talking, you won’t know what those six degrees are. Challenge yourself to speak to at least one ’green coat‘ (Hall of Fame member), one leader from your state and/or one leader in the committee you are interested in learning more about.”

You can also start a conversation with your peers on Gather before convention even begins. Ask who is attending convention and make plans to meet up with at least one new person.


2. Bring Business Cards

Business cards are a great way to keep track of who you’ve met and spoken with throughout the convention. They also provide contact information for follow-up conversations.

“For those of you who are a little techier, use a digital business card,” Moffit said. “You can create your business card online and generate a QR code to share. You’ll hopefully meet a lot of people and it’s the best way to keep them straight. Bonus: Years later, it’s fun to look back on people who’s cards you have, especially if you’ve continued to be in contact with them over the years.”

3. Stop by NATA Connect

NATA Connect is the first area ATs encounter at convention, since it houses registration. Here, you’ll be able to meet members of NATA staff, including the NATA Government Affairs Department, NATAPAC and the NATA Research & Education Foundation. Attendees can also connect with the AT4Me, AT Your Own Risk and ATs Care teams as well as NATA Hall of Fame members.

“I feel like getting to know the NATA staff, you always have somebody you can reach out to for questions,” Moffit said. “And if they can’t answer, they know who can. … I don’t think people realize how much the staff wants to know and help us.”

4. Take Advantage of Social Events

This year there are multiple social events where you can connect with your colleagues. These include the 75th Convention Anniversary Celebration, the Day Two Party and more. A full list of events is available under the Special Events webpage of the convention website. Moffit also recommends attending committee town halls for more opportunities to connect.

“Remember that there are not only ’socials‘ but also town halls, such as the AT EducATionalist, EDAC and LGBTQ+ events,” she said. “These are times you can meet up with colleagues you only meet once a year at NATA as well as meet other people who share your love for athletic training.”

5. Don’t Forget about Alumni Parties

Alumni parties are a great way to connect with others from your education program. You can see if your alumni is hosting an event during NATA 2024 on the convention website. You can also fill out the form to submit your own alumni party for inclusion on the page.

“One of the best ways to connect with others is to meet your alumni, new and old!” Moffit said. “If you don’t have an alumni party to go to, create your own. When the Idaho State University MSAT program was new, we had dinner with the small group of alums who attended the conference in Las Vegas. You never know who may help you on your journey; conversely, you never know who you may become a mentor to!”