|Conferencing Like a Champ|
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend both the ASCP regional and national meetings, where I had the pleasure of taking part in several networking opportunities. With the upcoming ASCP Annual Meeting and Exhibition, it’s a great idea to start getting prepared now. Here are my tips for a national meeting newbie:
Look at the schedule ahead of time: Take the time to look at the schedule in advance so that you know what time you have to be at a certain location. Plan to arrive at all of the sessions early, if possible, so that you can get a good seat in the front. Sometimes, there are multiple sessions going on at once, so knowing which ones you want to attend in advance can help make the flow of the day a lot easier.
Wear your name tag: It makes meeting new people much simpler. Make sure that it is placed on the left shoulder so that when you shake hands it remains visible.
Have your business cards & CV ready: Passing out business cards is a quick and effective way to give your contact information to someone. If you don’t have any business cards it is definitely worth it to get some made for any future conferences. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask someone for their business card. If you do accept someone’s business card, be sure to contact them to follow up in a few days (preferably within 48 hours). This will allow you to get in touch with people while your conversations are still fresh on your mind. A simple email reminding them how/where you met and your follow up message is a great way to keep the lines of communication open. Also, you should always have your CV readily available during the conference for networking purposes. Your work history, leadership and any recognition you have received will be visible to colleagues for reference. You never know who you will meet, including potential employers or even someone that could connect you to other individuals with your professional interest.
Talk to presenters: During a presentation, listen attentively so that you can reference specific points with the presenter afterwards. Once the presenter has finished, introduce yourself, compliment them on their presentation and thank them for taking the time to present. You may want to ask them any questions that you have or express your interest in the topic on which they presented. Don’t be afraid to ask them for their business card if you feel like they could help mentor you in the area that they presented on. Just be sure that if they do give you their business card, you don’t forget to follow up!
Network, Network, Network: Networking is one of the most important reasons to attend pharmacy conferences. At the ASCP regional conference you will be among many different people with various experiences in senior care. Talk to people and find out what their specific expertise is, along with anything else that they are involved in. Tell them what you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone while you’re waiting in line for food, or even after a session has ended. You could even ask the person next to you what they thought about the speaker. This also goes back to sitting next to people that you don’t know or going out of your way to mingle with new people. Make sure that you create these opportunities for yourself and avoid sticking around familiar faces the entire time.
Have fun: Last, but not least, make sure you have fun! If there is an outing planned for the students, make sure to attend! Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the one they had last year, but I can most definitely say that I had fun at the conference. I met so many people and made several new contacts just from putting myself out there and introducing myself to people. Sometimes this can feel like a daunting thing to do, especially if you’ve never had to do it before. By introducing yourself and following with a firm handshake, you’ve already broken the ice!
For students: The content of the student sessions is designed specifically for the students. This is a great opportunity to learn information that is directly applicable to you! If you are attending the conference with your peers, try to sit next to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself to them. Find out what school they are from and what year in pharmacy school they are. Get the conversation going and network before the session starts. I still keep in contact with some of the people that I met last year during the regional meeting.