Medical conferences constitute a regular occurrence for anyone in the healthcare industry. These conferences are a great opportunity to learn new things, gain more CME credits and also an ideal opportunity to grow you peer based network. The healthcare industry is highly hierarchical in nature and conferences are those rare occasions where community professionals gain an opportunity to rub noses with the academics. However, not many healthcare professionals make the best use of this opportunity and it has long been a burning issue on addressing the problem of how to network effectively in such conferences.
So, we have put together some tips and strategies you can use to network at medical conferences. When it comes to networking, the most important thing you should remember is that there is no one size fits all type of solution. Every person is unique and different and you must try to explore as much as possible, figure out what works best for you and devise your own method within your comfort zone. However, there are a handful of things that can help you to go from being nothing more than a wallflower to an active participant in medical conferences.
Different kinds of networking methods I came across “How Leaders Create and Use Networks” in Harvard Business Review that describes about three different types of networking methods viz. Operational networking, Personal networking and Strategic networking. Each of these networking methods can be highly effective based on what you want to achieve from your new acquaintance. Understanding these will provide you with enough arsenal to approach the right peer at the right moment and build your network.
Operational networking Operational networks are generally observed between individuals within an organization. The purpose of operational networking is to meet a collective objective. This could be meeting a project deadline or in this case a collaborate research. This method is ideal to approach a colleague high up in the hierarchical order or anyone else who can help you to climb up the ladder quickly. For example, if you wish to connect with your hospital administration, you could arrange to attend sessions with them and change your work relationship to a more personal level.
Personal networking You may have noticed that many aspiring leaders often focus their energies on seeking out like minded individuals outside of their own organizations. While this might seem like an easy take, it can be quite challenging to interact with someone outside your organization. As a result, it may be a difficult to find common ground with peers outside your circle of influence. However, a large number of influential personalities are often seen socializing with alumni groups, clubs, associations, medical conferences and so on. This method is known as personal networking. So, when you are at a medical conference, be on the lookout for peers who you think can get your referrals and help you advance your career outside of your organization.
Strategic networking If you take a look at some of the most powerful leaders in any field and their networking strategies, then you will find that these individuals are more concerned about broader strategic issues than a personal goal.They are constantly on the lookout for people within or outside their circle of influence that can contribute in different ways to the organization and meet any personal or organizational goal. The basic networking principle is same as that involved in operational or a personal networking perspective. However, a strategic focus makes this method highly effective with goals oriented towards progress in the future.
Some things to remember Every medical conference generally includes thousands of physicians clustered in an enclosed space for a long duration of time. This means, you have ample opportunity to network with peers. However, not many succeed in this feat due to several reasons ranging from personal fears to improper understanding of the concepts related to networking and also lack of preparation. You need to remember that the purpose of networking is to improve your efficiency through a collaborative effort and not through a purely transactional interaction. Nevertheless, there are certain things that you should remember when trying to network either in medical conferences or at a local club.
- Shed the mantle of shyness and meet people outside your group. When in a lecture hall, try to identify and meet people who are from the same state. Your main goal should always be to build new connections, not deepen existing relationships.
- Diversify your connections. Meet people with different experiences, expertise and fields. Do not focus on any one particular group. For example, meeting 100 different recruiters would not make any huge difference. Instead it would be better to meet about 2-3 recruiters and about 2-3 administrators that you are interested in.
- Make acquaintances not friends. Always remember that your main objective when networking at conferences is to get in touch with people so you can contact them at a later stage for any professional help that you may need.
- Help each other. It is always a good idea to help each other if you find that you share a goal with another peer. You could probably use some of your contacts to help a fellow recruiter or you may seek their help to get in touch with more schools and so on.
In a professional setting, it's not what you know that matters most but who you know. This is the essence of networking. While the tips and techniques provided here can work in many situations there is a lot more that you can improvise. Find out your own ways by experimenting with these techniques in different settings and situations and soon you will find out that networking has become a way of life for you.