Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other clinicians attend conferences for a variety of reasons (- CE credits are only part of it!) We attend to connect with new friends and to reconnect with old friends and colleagues. The location is often a draw for those of us wanting to take a few extra days for R&R. However, many of us attend conferences with the main purpose of networking…to meet certain people, to find a job or a colleague to join our practice, or to further our goals related to our research, writing projects, business development and more.
Regardless of the reason for attending, it’s important to be prepared in order to have a successful experience. Here are just a few tips to help you do just that.
Identify your objective. Is there someone (or some company) you want to meet? How will you find them? If it’s a company in the exhibit hall, do you know where they will be? (This is especially important in larger conferences like AANP). If possible, consider connecting with them prior to the conference in order to arrange a time or meeting place. This is easy to do if you are both on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Take business cards with you. If you don’t have them, order them now. If you only want a few, be aware that you can often order 250 free cards from Vista Print or other print houses. You’ll need to check their specific requirements. An alternative is to create “mailing” labels that you’ll be able to stick onto cards or paper at the conference. Either way…include your name, contact information (address, phone, email address and perhaps website or SM id). If creating a business card, leave the back blank…it allows your recipient to write notes so they can remember why they have the card and why they want to connect with you.
Another idea is to take a photo of or with the person you meet and then tag it as soon as possible with their name so you can match it up with your notes.
Be prepared to follow up with your contacts as is necessary and appropriate. Consider taking pre-stamped post cards or cards with you. Write your notes each evening, address them and drop them in the mail before the end of the conference. When the individual arrives home or back to work, they will have something waiting for them to remind them of your meeting.
Larger conferences offer a lot of networking opportunities, but it can be difficult to remember all the names and details about each person or business you interact with. These tips will help you make better connections and allow you to follow up once you return home. Happy conference going!
PS – If you are attending the AANP Conference in Las Vegas June 2013, be sure and stop by our booth and say hello!
Do you have other tips for conference networking? Share them below.