The HIMSS Conference in Chicago will be a huge event with a lot of sessions and exhibits to take in. It’s going to be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are some tips to generate the most value and fun from your conference attendance.
1. Leave Some Wiggle Room in Your Schedule
It’s common for most people to make a conference schedule that lists all the presentations, sessions and vendor booths you want to attend. But adhering to a rigid schedule may not be the best option. So don't overschedule yourself with meetings and parties. Meetings shouldn’t last more than 10 to 30 minutes. Up to half of you time should be unscheduled. You’ll likely get more out of the conference by deviating from your original plan a bit.
2. Be Open to Serendipity
Since you’ve left a little time in your schedule, walk around the conference center. Hang around the entrance to meeting rooms and exhibit halls. There's a lot going on in the hallways, lobbies, meeting areas and eating areas. Underestimating the occurrence and power of serendipity can be a mistake.
3. Network to Expand Your Mind
Make an effort to meet people outside of your own circle. By putting yourself in unknown spaces with unfamiliar people you’ll enjoy a different perspective and expand your thinking.
4. Give More Than You Take
When meeting new people, listen to understand and not just to respond. Ask questions to help yourself remember your new contact. It’s not enough to just learn how someone can help you out but also how you can help them.
5. Have a System for Organizing New Contacts
As you walk the booths, wander the conference center and attend sessions you’ll be collecting a lot of business cards. Develop a system so you know which contacts you want to follow up with. Consider sending off a quick email or text to potentially high value contacts at the end of the day.
6. Take It Easy On the Booze
It really is a small world. And cameras and videos are running everywhere. Don’t accidentally embarrass yourself to the point where you have to apologize to others.
The HIMSS Conference is a great opportunity to expand your network and sphere of knowledge. For more tips and information on the 2015 HIMSS Conference in Chicago, consider following me on Twitter.