I have just departed the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Education Conference in Biloxi, MS. I had the opportunity here today to discuss the benefits and challenges of Social Media in our industry. I also revealed today the initial results from our extensive Social Media Survey Project (more on that next week). I think the presentation went ok. They didn’t throw anything at me, anyway. I suppose the gracious southern hospitality so prevalent here would have prevented them from doing so regardless, so I can’t really know.

The fastest way for me to get here was to fly to New Orleans and drive to Biloxi. It seems the Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans has been undergoing some extensive renovations. The good news is that they have a brand spanking new rental car facility. The bad news is it’s in Baton Rouge. By the time I walked the 80 miles through the terminal and along an interminably long covered sidewalk, I had gone through two pair of shoes, and had to retread the wheels on my rolling luggage. The designers actually constructed the sidewalk of very small concrete sections with enormous expansion joints just to make hauling your luggage “extra special”. The vast expanse of paver bricks at one end is a nice touch as well. One bag never made it. I had to leave it for dead along the New Orleans Luggage Highway of Death. 

But I digress. 

I have been attending a number of these jurisdictional conferences recently. I recognize very few faces at these events, as the attendees tend to be more local, and are the people in the trenches for workers’ comp in their state. These conferences draw the people who are heavily involved in their state, and this dynamic gives them an entirely different feel than some of the bigger, more nationally known events. The people here are friendly and familiar. They are family. A family that gathers once a year to learn, support, commiserate and grow together. As an “outsider looking in”, it is a very interesting thing to watch.

Generally the quality of these conferences is very good. I attribute that to the fact that they are produced by individuals who are “knee deep” in their states workers’ compensation system, and the ability to generally keep the focus to one or two states gives a laser like focus to the content presented (unless you invite some boob who prattles on endlessly about Social Media). 

The Mississippi event (http://www.mwcea.org/) was no exception. Now in its 26th year and produced through a partnership of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Educational Association and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission, it was targeted and specific for the people in this state who make things tick. There were matter of fact reviews of legislative and regulatory changes both enacted and upcoming, as well as a variety of sessions looking at topics that will sound vaguely familiar – like special handling of old dog cases and the like. They even had a terrific comedian who spoke about employing humor in the workplace to better manage stress and improve results.

Another thing to like about the jurisdictional conference was certainly on display here: The Commissioners were here. They were highly approachable. They were paying attention. Nothing bad will ever come out of their presence and participation, not to mention the type of cooperation employed to make a conference like this happen. 

If your state has an annual state specific workers’ compensation conference, you might want to check it out. Could be worth a day or two to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and learn something along the way. 

I know I certainly did; and it was more than “bring kevlar luggage” the next time I fly to New Orleans. 

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