Wichita, Kansas can now be checked off my list of places to visit! It was a new destination for me and my visit there allowed me to meet some new people and taught me many things about safety in flying.
What Is The Bombardier Safety Standdown?
This annual event began in 1996 as an aviation safety training event for a Bombardier Demonstration Team. The objective was to improve aviation safety and provide industry changes for improvement of safety standards. The event was opened to corporate pilots in 1999. This event provides tools to help pilots develop the discipline and responsibility of aviation safety in their professional field.
The event is free! Finding out about the event takes a little investigating and persistency. Word-of-mouth seems to be the main source of learning about this occurrence. The information provided is valuable for many individuals involved in the aviation industry. There are several seminars to choose from throughout the event to cater to almost anyone’s needs. If you aren’t able to personally attend, they offer webinars of the programming.
Start Googling it now!
The program dates are posted on the Standdown website several weeks before the event but you need to act fast to secure a spot. It’s wildly popular among aviation enthusiasts and professionals probably because it’s a very productive means of networking and full of helpful information from knowledgeable professionals in a variety of arenas. Being free and in a relatively inexpensive location, also plays a role in its popularity.
During my visit a few weeks ago, the hotel was in a great location downtown and next to the river walkway. The weather was mild and there were a myriad of restaurants and bars within a quick Uber ride.
Comfort Zone Abandonment
My favorite part is always meeting people! That used to be out of my comfort zone, but it’s gotten easier to just walk up and introduce myself more recently. I swear that would have never happened 3 years ago! No lie. It’s become more effortless over time because I’ve never had a bad experience doing just that. Not once has there been a rude or awkward moment after a “surprise” introduction. My opening line is always: “Hello (hand extended), I’m Natalie Kelley. Tell me about yourself and why you’re here.” Most people rather enjoy talking about themselves (especially if they’re pilots-hahahahaha). You must listen attentively. That part is important! Be sincere and DO listen intently as they speak. You will learn something and be likely to find a commonality. When you find a commonality, it’s easy to lead into telling your new acquaintance about yourself. And BOOM! A relationship is formed. However, remember, everything in moderation. Don’t go on and on about yourself. Don’t instantly go into salesman mode either with whatever you may have to offer. Be genuine and think of this person as a human being with a life who could wind up being your new best friend! You never know.
Business Cards Are Still Relevant
In this technology age when we are all trying to get rid of paper with electronic everything…(oh boy, understatement, but that’s a blog for a different day), business cards are still huge. Here’s how I use them.
While we are trading basic information about ourselves from said above introduction paragraph, I’m reaching for my business card and handing it to the person in mid-conversation. It has all social media handles, email, phone number, etc. If this person can’t find me, then it just wasn’t meant to be!!! They usually follow with handing me their card and it will be tucked safely away in my purse, tote, notebook, whatever. After I’ve had a chance to sit down, I jot something down about that person to help me remember our meeting, what they looked like, etc. This is important! I will forget all about who this person is after a few days time when emptying my bag with 25-50 business cards in it. It’s really hard to send a follow up email to someone when you really don’t remember much about them or your discussion. You can make it much more personal when you send a message recalling a specific topic or moment you shared. What’s imperative for me, is making these notes on their card ASAP. I’ll forget in no time otherwise. If I don’t do this, the card might as well be from a faceless stranger that I’ve brushed by on a busy sidewalk. If I really don’t recall this person, it’s hard for me to send them a sincere follow-up note. I feel like a fraud! Don’t learn the hard way as I’ve done by sending a message to someone you really don’t remember. Here’s what’s happened to me and my experience when I’ve sent an impersonal email: “Natalie, thanks for reaching out! Where did we meet exactly? What were we discussing?” Yikes. If this happens to you, there are two choices. One, You either make something up and risk being busted, or two, you have to admit that you really don’t remember. Both options aren’t promising a future relationship with this person, either professionally or personally. That’s sad and unproductive. Don’t be sad and unproductive!
When The Party Is Over
After returning home, I unpack my suitcase, start the washing machine, put all of my dry-cleaning on the front porch for pick-up and proceed to get out my notes and business cards to review and put to use. I recommend sending an email or making a phone call to your new contacts within 2-3 days so they won’t lose their memory of you and you won’t lose your memory of them. Git Er Dun! These connections are valuable for a variety of reasons. Keep in contact periodically or follow on social media. You never know how you can help each other out.
Mark your calendar for early next year to start watching for the dates to be released for the next Safety Standdown and get yourself to Wichita! Hopefully, we will see each other there and can share our freshly printed business cards!