This is a topic that we have previously touched on and one that is important enough to expound upon for the benefit of our membership. The Tennessee Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (TSLMS) is a professional organization that started as a small group of caring laser surgeons who were interested in sharing ideas, fostering new relationships, and enhancing patient outcomes. We now find our roster of members ever-expanding, with one of the most recognized national educational events in the US which focuses on Lasers & Energy Based Devices, Injectables for Cosmetic Concerns, Skincare, Practice Management and Medical Dermatology. We are a remarkable organization that provides a high level, professional education service.
Building A Networking Plan
As we pointed out in our 2018 piece How To Make The Most Of Your Time At SCALE:
The best way to accomplish your networking goals, and thus make the most of your time at SCALE 2019 Music City, is to do this with intention. Know who you want to meet and why. Go out of your way to make that happen, scheduling time in advance with those you already know and leave time for impromptu meetings. The following 10 Tips to Network Like a Pro At a Conference will help even the worst networkers:
- Practice your elevator pitch. Who are you? What do you do? Why are you attending?
- Show up early. Stand near the registration table, entrance, or food area (where people congregate). Consider approaching sponsors, exhibitors and speakers and introducing yourself. Ask people the questions you have practiced from your elevator pitch.
- Express interest in others.
- Ask questions. Be an active listener and use eye contact and body language to show you are listening.
- Talk to strangers. Everyone is there for the same reason and is sharing the same experience. Use an icebreaker, like asking what the person you are meeting thought of a particular session.
- Be personable. Use a person’s first name a few times to help you remember them.
- Take notes on their business card.
- Keep your breath fresh, using mints or gum.
- Stay hydrated. This helps you look and feel your best.
- Stay connected. Following up with everyone you meet after the conference and staying in touch is important. A personal email, connecting on social media, or sending them a card will go a long way. Scheduling a call or coffee, if you are local to them, will help to build the relationships you made.
Pre-Conference Networking Advice For Professionals
As we have previously pointed out, “Most medical professionals do not learn the same networking skills that many other professionals do. However, ‘Many non-traditional opportunities in the medical field are not widely advertised. Finding these types of opportunities requires creative problem solving. Often, doctors who hold leadership roles or who have non-clinical jobs explain that they were asked or invited to such positions. This can only happen if those who are hiring for such positions know you and have a strong sense of what you can bring to the table. And that often requires networking.’ There are other reasons to network aside from simply getting a new position, including staying abreast of trends and technologies, building a professional support network, and being able to have an influence in your field.”
There are a number of things that anyone can do to overcome any level of social anxiety they may have related to conferences. There are, in fact, some great pieces of advice found on the internet for this exact issue. For instance, Reddit.com published a piece that indicated that social anxiety peaks at conferences even for those who do not normally suffer. (Source).
Our advice – Do as many of the following as you can:
- Make a networking plan that helps you reach your goals. Ask yourself why you are attending, who you want to meet, and what you are trying to accomplish at the conference.
- Organize a get-together. Try to arrive early and encourage some of those you want to connect with to do the same, then invite them to meet as a group before the conference starts.
- Create or join a social media group with the other conference attendees you are looking to connect with – using the conference hashtag for pre-conference conversations.
- Put together a small gift for those people you most want to connect with, something local and special from where you are coming from.
- Make sure that you look closely at the attendee and presenter list in advance, choose who you want to connect with and invite them to meet with you during the conference, even if for a quick 15 minute coffee. If any are arriving on the same flight, or are in the same hotel, share an uber.
- Plan your agenda to include networking time and reach out in advance to the speakers to discuss their program, letting them know that you are looking forward to hearing them. Then follow up at their presentation and introduce yourself.
- Use your social media profiles to your advantage and update them. Make sure that your photo is recent and recognizable and that you are using the conference hashtag so others can find you and network with you.
- Make sure you have enough cards or other branded materials to give to people to help them remember you. Handing out those items can be an icebreaker. Also, “If you are known for wearing funky socks, hats, broaches, bow ties, or scarves, be sure to include them in your packing list.”
- Get contact information together and loaded into your phone for everyone you want to meet, connecting that with social media so you can easily recognize people from their pictures. Google, company bios, or LinkedIn profiles have ready-to-go photos and smart- phones have the technology you need. If you are not on LinkedIn, make sure you get a profile on and up-to-date prior to the conference.
- Do your homework on the people you want to connect with; make sure you know what they do, and like, and then have real conversations with them about things they care about.
Post Conference Networking Is the Key To Networking Success
After the conference matters just as much as before, and during. This is the time period in which you establish relationships. Conference Monkey has the best advice on this one.
When you’re at a conference, it can become a blur of new people, new ideas, and new places. When you’re meeting tens or even hundreds of people over the span of a few days, it is extremely difficult to remember every person. Even when you have a good rapport with someone, there’s a risk you won’t remember each other’s specific details once you both get back home.
The way to combat this natural forgetfulness is to make sure that you follow up with all of your contacts after the conference. In the few days after you get home from the conference, make a list of everyone that you spoke to or whose contact details you received. For each person, decide if meeting them was a friendly chat sort of situation, or whether you specifically want to make this person a part of your network. If you do want to network, now is the time to start sending emails to these people.
If you need help identifying people at SCALE 2020 to network with please let us know.