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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Handy Hints for a National Meeting 2009

With the AAHPM Annual Assembly coming up, I will post the 6th edition of Handy Hints for a National Meeting. Later this week I will feature How to Give a Great Presentation, 2nd edition.


* If you are bringing family or a significant other, spend some time with them.
* Bring business cards, lots of them. Make sure they have your email on them. If they don’t, write your email a number of the cards so when you hand them out, you are not trying to find a pen to add it.
* When receiving a business card, immediately write down the topic of interest you were discussing with that person. If the time isn't right, then do it soon afterwards. When you get home, you will have met so many people, you won't remember who that person was. Opportunity lost.
* If you get someone's business card, and you don't care if you ever interact with them again, make a special symbol that only you know on it, so you know to throw it out when you start going through all the business cards. Not everyone you meet is going to be a hub of a network you need.
* Turn in session evaluations in a timely manner.
* Find someone who is organizing the event and let them know they are doing an excellent job. They don't hear it enough. They are probably pretty exhausted from putting out everybody's "EMERGENCY!" They have put in a lot of hard work and seldom get recognized.
* Also find the conference chairs and thank them. While likely celebrities in the field, they don't always get personal recognition for the months of work put into coordinating the activity.
* Reconnect with old friends.
* Try and get out and see the city you are in, since you never know when you will be back there or if it will be devastated by a major hurricane or flood or earthquake or killer tomato.
* Ask other attendees what talks they are going to or avoiding. You may find something interesting you had previously overlooked.
* Bring your CV (multiple copies, and UPDATED), regardless of whether you are looking for a job. Many people may want to know more about you for networking reasons, not just job offers.


* Don't sit by yourself unless you are the first person in the room.
* Talk to people.
* Sit next to someone and then introduce yourself.
* Don't stay in your hotel room too much, you'll miss too many opportunities
* Stay in your hotel room sometimes. Take some time to unwind and be yourself.
* There is usually a bulletin board in a central place where people post messages: Look there for any messages regarding you or get-togethers you are interested in.
* When you go out with other people, you do not HAVE to talk about your field. (The people at the table next to you may appreciate that).
* You should make lunch/dinner plans with people outside the group you came with, but invite your group along too, if appropriate.
* Connect with attendees before you go through social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
* See if people are Twittering about your conference on
* Put something colorful or interesting but not too noticeable on your name badge. People will ask you about it and then you can tell them what it signifies. Note: Do not say, “It signifies something to get people to talk to me.” Although that would be pretty funny.


* Try to ask a question in at least one session that strongly interests you.
* When you ask a question, introduce who you are, and where you are from (quickly). This helps calm you down if you are nervous to ask your question. It also lets the audience know if they want to talk to YOU after the session if they have similar interests.
* Ask your question succinctly. Other people have questions too.
* When you come back to work, schedule an educational session with interested parties to share everything you learned there. You business may let you go to the next conference if you educate others.
* Don't just depend on your notes during each session; chances are you will never look at them again. Write down key facts you have learned towards the end of the day.
* Go to the poster sessions and talk to the people who made the posters. A lot of hard work went into most of these, and everyone likes to hear when they have done a job well.
* Go to at least one paper session. The concurrent sessions are great but you can find out some interesting up and coming things in the paper sessions.
* Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to any of the 'celebrities' in the field. Most of the well-known people are very friendly and willing to talk, just make sure they are not in a rush for somewhere else. If you don't read the situation right, they will cut the interaction short, and you will think they are a big jerk. Remember, a lot of people would like to have their attention.
* After a session, if you talk with a speaker, make your point or ask your question, and then allow others to interact. Nothing is worse than the know-it-all who wants to take up all the time of the presenter without regards to other people's interest.
* If you don't like a session, leave. Make the most of your time at a conference.

If you have any other tips, please email me at ctsinclair @t gmail d0t c0m
Handy Hints for a National Meeting is archived online at
Requests for use/modification should be directed to ctsinclair @t gmail d0t c0m
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