Graduating from university is definitely not the end of your education. In fact, continuing education is a fact of life for all health care providers. We need it for state licenses and national certifications and boards. Of course, we also want to keep up with the changes in medicine and healthcare.
While many of us are thrilled to be around 5,000 plus of our friends and colleagues, for some it’s a bit overwhelming. And for some, it can be downright anxiety provoking.
Inevitably, we leave something at home, forgot to confirm something, don’t have our business cards and the like.
And if you have ever arrived at a conference and found your room had been given away and there was nothing else to be had in town…well, it adds to the stress (and the flavor) of a large conference.
So whether you are attending your first conferences or your 20th, here are some tips that I have put together from past experiences of mine and several of my colleagues.
- Call ahead to confirm your reservations.
- Make reservations as soon as you can. If you are attending one of the larger conferences you’ll find that rooms fill up fast at the main hotels as well as the overflow hotels.
- Be prepared for variable weather conditions. Air conditioning can be a bit chilly for some.
- Drink lots of water. It’s usually hot in the host cities, not to mention the effects of flying and air conditioning on your hydration status.
- Delay in making shuttle bus reservations, it may be more cost-effective and have the least hassle factor to share a cab or Uber/Lyft once you get to the airport.
- Attempt to get a lay of the land prior to arrival. It might help reduce frustration. Google maps can be particularly helpful for this.
- Someone you’ve been wanting to meet? See if you can contact them ahead of time and set up some time for coffee or tea. Not possible? Then make sure you attending one of their sessions.
- Many conferences now have apps you can download to your phone. In addition to having your schedule at your fingertips, it can also have maps and additional information which will make your conferencing going easier.
- Carry food and snacks if possible to avoid some of the unhealthy choices in resorts. You’ll also save money and time by avoiding the long lines.
- Want to keep your feet happy? Those cute sandals will probably not serve you well at a larger conference when you’ll average 5+ miles per day. Consider a good pair of walking/running shoes.
- Make sure you carry chargers for phones, computers, and other portable devices.
- Bring business cards – they are great for networking with one another. If you don’t have one, it’s well worth the effort to have some made up. Check out places such as Vista Print for inexpensive but great cards. Leave one side blank for note taking. While I’m sure there are all sorts of electronic ways to exchange information, business cards are still the most universal…at least for now.
- Speaking of business cards, apps such as Evernote allow you to snap a photo of the business card. Others will create a contact in your phone. You may even want to snap their photo and their card to help jog your memory.
- Organize a meet-up to with colleagues. We all develop great relationships with our colleagues on social media. This is a great time to finally meet them in person.
- To lightening your load when you leave the conference, avoid (or at least be selective) all the product samples and promotional giveaways in the exhibit.
- Consider keeping a collapsible bag in your luggage just-in-case for travel keepsakes, exhibit hall giveaways, or that side shopping trip.
- Many larger conferences are held at family friendly locations. Consider bringing your family along for a bit of R&R before or after the conference.
Regardless if you are attending a smaller local conference or a large national conference, it involves you spending time, energy and money. You’ll want to make the most it.
Please share you conference experiences and any tips you have for other conference goers.