11 Tips for Attending Conferences

Attending conferences is a fact of life for nurse practitioners and other healthcare providers.  The annual American Association of Nurse Practitioners conference was held Nashville last month (June). There were many highlights and wins from the opening keynote with e-patient Dave, to awards and Fellows induction, fantastic sessions and closing ceremonies. And of course…networking. There is nothing like being around 5,000+ of your closest colleagues and friends.

Unfortunately, all was not perfect in paradise. Several attendees experienced problems such as reserved rooms disappearing, being perpetually lost and unable to find intended sessions on time.

Despite this, an overwhelming number of folks I talked with were happy with the conference and look forward to the 2015 conference in New Orleans.

Whether you are getting ready to attend your first conference, or you 20th, here are some tips gleaned from conference goers to get the most out of the experience.

  1. Call ahead to confirm your reservations.
  2. Make reservations as soon as you can. The rooms fill up fast at the main hotels as well as the overflow hotels.
  3. Be prepared for variable weather conditions. Air conditioning can be a bit chilly for some.
  4. 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.
  5. Delay in making shuttle bus reservations, it may be more cost effective and have the least hassle factor to share a cab once you get to the airport.
  6. Attempt to get a lay of the land prior to arrival. It might help reduce frustration.
  7. 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.
  8. Make sure you carry chargers foe phones, computers and other portable devices.
  9. Bring business cards – they are great for networking with one another. If you don’t have one, it’s well woth the effort to have some made up. Leave one sside blank for note talking. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Consider keeping a collapsible bag in you luggage just in case for for travel keepsakes, exhibit hall giveaways, or that side shopping trip.

Attending smaller local conferences or large national conferences involve your time, energy and money. You’ll want to make the most of them. We posted these and other tips before and you can reference them here.

Now, let’s here from you. Please share your conference experiences and any tips and tricks you have found to be effective.

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