Have you ever wondered where Professional Organizers go to learn?
One fantastic opportunity is at the conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers otherwise known as NAPO. As “the leading organizing authority”, NAPO’s mission is to provide its members with exceptional education, business connections, related research, and offer increased public awareness about the industry as a whole. The yearly conference succeeds in doing just that on all fronts.
In May of 2016, five hundred professional organizers and productivity specialists from all over the world gathered at the Sheraton in downtown Atlanta, Georgia for the event. I was one of the very excited first time attendees.
At the four day conference I acquired information about the new products and services related to organizing and productivity on the market, networked with colleagues, and participated in numerous informational sessions. Here is a little more of what went on.
The two day vendor expo was comprised of an assortment of the fabulous companies that help organizers and our clients flourish. I saw every kind of box, bin, caboodle, hanger, file, and folder that you can imagine. Though there were too many to mention, I especially liked the new Smead FasTab file folders with built-in tabs and the NEET laptop bags with cable organizers. The prizes and the free giveaways were quite a treat!
At the expo I also spoke with national charities like Habitat for Humanity that rely on donations and key organizer’s groups in specialized markets, such as the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (challengingdisorganization.org) and the National Association of Senior Move Managers (nasmm.org) that have a multitude of resources for anyone interested in offering those particular services. Potential clients who are looking for a professional in one of these areas are highly encouraged to visit the corresponding website.
In addition to the vendor expo, conference was a great place to meet organizers of all backgrounds and specialties. This year’s event included men and women from across the U.S., Canada, UK, and Brazil, to name a few. Each panel, reception, meal, meeting and presentation gave me another opportunity to strike up a conversation with somebody new and interesting. The face-to-face connections I made help widen my reach so I can connect potential clients with skilled organizers in other areas of the state or the country.
I also gained a lot from speaking to organizers who have been running highly successful businesses for as long as fifteen or twenty years. Speaking with men and women who are passionate about organizing and helping others the way that I am is always a great experience and I returned even more excited and motivated to get back to work.
Besides all of the great people I met, the real heart of the event are the learning sessions taught by professional organizers, business coaches, authors, strategists, and professional speakers. I attended educational classes focused on business growth and marketing, including “Leveraging a competitive market: Building your personal brand” presented by Lida Citroën. Citroën authored the book “Reputation 360” and spoke about her belief that “values plus action equal credibility”.
As you might expect, several sessions focused on teaching or enhancing organizing skills. I attended one about organizing with clients who have ADHD and another detailing the research findings of Cynthia LeRouge, Ph.D. and Associate Professor at the University of Washington’s department of health services. Dr. LeRouge’s study of adults in the “Baby Boomer” age group has helped to inform the ways in which organizers can meet this specific group’s needs, especially in terms of organizing medical records and estate plans. It is interesting to note that the baby boomer research is ongoing and NAPO is partnering with efforts like these to be at the forefront of scientific studies that affect organizers and their clients.
On a different note, I really enjoyed the talk about photo organizing and preserving family history presented by Sherra Humphreys and Cathi Nelson, the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (appo.org). The talk helped me realize just how much of a role photos have always played in my life and urged me to share the skill of organizing photos with my clients.
There is no way to adequately summarize the contents of a jam-packed four day explosion of information and the positive impact that it had on me, both personally and professionally. Still, the main message I would like to share is that the members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (myself included) are continuously growing, adapting, and learning new ways to better assist our clients in the journey of being organized and more productive at home and at work. The yearly conference plays an integral role in these efforts. If you are looking to hire an organizer, network with organizer, or become an organizer, visit www.napo.net for more information.
Tatiana Knight Casas is a proud NAPO member and currently serves as the Vice-President of her chapter. Call (305) 502-6391 or email Tatiana@neatwithknight.com for services.