Networking is an essential part of any career. While it may seem like the medical field is one of the last industries to rely on networking, it can actually lead to valuable opportunities down the line. Making connections and building lasting, mutually beneficial relationships can help you to discover career opportunities and find out more about your specific field.
Medical conferences and CME events are one the best opportunities for connecting with others in your field. Below are some tips and best practices to help you successfully network at the next conference you attend. Remember people do business with people they know, like and trust.
Conferences and medical symposiums offer many opportunities to network with attendees and faculty from around the world. Before attending your next medical event, create a schedule for yourself in order to maximize everything the event has to offer. Attend the panels and breakout sessions that most closely align with your goals, and go beyond just handing out your business cards. Research the course presentors, faculty and guest speakers, to help guide your conversations. You may even want to email the speakers before the event to set up a conversation or meeting with them at the conference.
While at the conference, it’s important to be engaging. When approaching someone, make sure you have an idea about what you’d like to share about yourself. Your name, where you work, what you’re studying, why you’re at the event, are good places to start at the beginning stages of the conversation.
If you’re presenting your research at a conference, take the opportunity to meet even more people. While it may be tempting to walk away from your poster or abstract to do some exploring as soon as you can, it’s a good practice to spend some extra time at your table. Your research is your wheelhouse, and you want to give yourself ample time to discuss your findings with listeners who may have questions or comments.
If you’re attending a CME event, keep in mind that all attendees have the same goals in mind: advancing their medical skills and knowledge, and staying up to date on current trends. Don’t focus on only connecting with the speakers, but also your fellow health professionals. Learn more about how they got to where they are and where they want to go – you never know where those connections could land you, or how you may be able to help them in return. Many CME courses also involve international attendees, which could provide a way to learn more about global studies you may not have had the chance to discuss previously. The best way to create meaningful and engaging conversations is to do more listening than talking. Follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of the time you listen for understanding what the person is talking about, and 20% of the time you talk about yourself in a way that is succinct and keeps their attention.
Lastly, don’t forget to exchange contact information. You’d be surprised about how many people have great conversations, but forget to ask for the other person’s information. If they have a business card, take a pen and write about one fact that you spoke about with that person, so when you follow up you can remind them of something you listened to from that conversation.
You work is not done, nor will it be anytime soon. After the event is over, it’s common practice to follow up with the people you met within a few days, whether it’s via email or LinkedIn. A simple message referring to that fact you took from the back of their business card on something you spoke about is typically the best route to go when reestablishing the conversation. From there, you can use the conversation to reach back out every so often and keep the connection alive.
If you’re looking for an event to test out your networking skills, take a look at our upcoming symposia. Our conference rooms and labs are conducive to not only gaining great new skills, but also making excellent connections.