Every year, hundreds of people attend their very first WQA Convention & Exhibition. If one of those people this year is you, we hope you'll benefit from these tips and details we've gathered here to help you take advantage of the full convention experience, from education sessions to the trade show to the many networking opportunities:

1. The Convention website is your friend.  Look here for the most up-to-date information for everything from reserving your hotel room to figuring out which booths you want to visit at the trade show to deciding which education sessions are not to be missed.Once you've registered for convention, you'll use your email address and badge number to log in to the convention site and you can start "favoriting" events on the schedule to create your own personalized guide for navigating the convention.

2. Download the appThe Convention App is your pocket guide to everything you need to know at the convention. Those items you "favorited" on the convention website schedule move over to the app as your personal schedule. You'll be able to use the interactive trade show floor map. And you can connect with other convention-goers electronically (be sure to share your contact information when you log in to the app so others can find you, too!). Scan the QR code at right to download the app to your phone or tablet, or search for it in the Apple store or on Google play.  To log in the first time, you'll need your email address and Convention badge number, which you'll find on your registration confirmation email.

3. Get inspired at the Opening General Session. Held the afternoon of the convention's first day, April 6, the Opening General Session is a great overview of the water treatment industry and of WQA's role in it. You'll hear from WQA and industry leaders, learn about issues affecting the industry, vote for WQA officers and see your colleagues honored with WQA Leadership Awards.

4.  Boost your skills. The convention offers dozens of education sessions and other learning opportunities on topics ranging from water contaminants to chloride discharge to technical techniques to business operations topics. If you're certified, many of the sessions offer Continuing Professional Development toward your recertification - you can earn most of it at this one event! Check out the full schedule as soon as it's posted, and start marking the sessions you want to attend as "favorites" so they'll be listed in your personal convention schedule on the Convention App.

5. If you're a dealer, consider Boot Camp. The WQA Business Boot Camp is held the day before the convention - April 5 this year. It's a full-day intensive session about all aspects of running a successful water treatment business. You'll walk away with specific, concrete steps you can take to improve your business operations  -- and with a roomful of new friends to help you get the most out of your convention experience.

6. Get to know your colleagues at the Welcome Reception. This night of drinks, appetizers, music and networking is a fun, relaxing way to meet new people, and it's included with your convention registration. You might see old friends or, better yet, meet some new people who can share great ideas with you.

7. Visit WQA Central on the Trade Show FloorOnce the trade show opens, you'll see the great big WQA Central booth right in the middle of all the action. Stop by if you have questions about Gold Seal product certification, professional certification and training, membership or the Water Quality Research Foundation. We can also give you directions, show you how to use the app or just share a big, friendly in-person hello and thank you for coming!

8. Check out the Exposition. Here's where you can meet vendors or suppliers, check out new technology, take a quick class or make important connections. The interactive trade show map on the Convention App allows you to search for vendors by company name or type of business so you can plan in advance which booths are not to be missed.

9. Get plugged in with WQA. Did you know that most committee, advisory councils and membership sections meet during the convention? Check your schedule for things that might interest you, and (unless it specifically says "invitation only") you are welcome to sit in and see what they're up to. You might even decide you want to participate more fully and will consider answering our Call for Volunteers in February.

10. The learning continues. You can't possibly attend every single education session you'd like to, so we record them for you!  This full package of recordings is free with your convention registration and will be available online shortly after convention ends.

We hope these tips and the video testimonials have answered all your convention questions, but, if not, check out our FAQ page or email us and we'll try to help. We're looking forward to seeing you in Orlando April 6-8!