Most often conferences are a combination of enlightening activities of intellectual presentations, potential meetings, and endless conversations.This may be quite overwhelming to decide where you want to focus your energies. Are you craving for your own room of comfort and solitude after your busy first-day itinerary? Before heading back to your room stop first and think, “How do I get the most from this conference?” One of the most effective ways to benefit yourself from a professional conference is by networking yourself. You may not see it now, but you may have just missed your next big opportunity down the road.
What if you are an introvert and despise small talk? It is a well-accepted idea that networking at business gatherings and conferences is forte of extrovert businesspersons. But according to Susan Cain author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, no less than one-third of the world’s population is comprised of introverts.Many other well-renowned personalities like social activists Gandhi and Rosa Parks, great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, and even the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates are all identified as introverts. According to a rough estimate, nearly 40% of CEOs are identified as introverts. So, what about the introverts who want to network at a big conference like HIMSS18 in Las Vegas? Well, here are a few tips and guidelines for them to make great connections at HIMSS18.
Prepare before you do Networking:
Your networking experience should start prior to the conference or event. You must anticipate the environment you’ll be encountering by preparing yourself to see new exciting people and creating meaningful dialogs with them. So, if you are headed to join HIMSS18, you should know that there will be 45,000 people expected to attend this 5-days conference including more than 1,300 exhibitors and 300 education sessions. This may be nerve-racking but you will have the opportunity to develop connections with healthcare IT industry experts. To get most out of this conference and the connections you make, you need to prepare yourself. It would be a wise choice to go through the HIMSS18 Pocket Guide to get familiarize with the people of your interest and conference schedules. It will help you to not only pre-schedule your routine at the conference but also have some time for yourself to relax. Don’t forget to find and make a new friend early on to make yourself more at ease. Also, get a copy of attendee list to know what VIPs are likely to join the conference, do your homework to decide which specific people you want to meet and most importantly prepare your questions in advance to start a meaningful conversation.
Decide your Networking Objectives:
To maximize your experience, you will need to set your goals. Unfortunately, you cannot meet every individual at the conference. Getting familiar with 45,000 people would take much more than just five days.Therefore, you need to set priorities when it comes to meeting the people of your interest. Use your introvert skills to your advantage. Meeting twenty people each day for an extrovert may be a goal but for introverts, it would serve a much stronger impression to find three new connections each day to have meaningful conversations with. Before you end the conversation with others, make sure that you have exchanged the contact information particularly business cards with each other. Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to connect with your new colleague if they do not carry business cards.
Start a Conversation:
To achieve the networking goals, you certainly need to start a conversation with the conference attendees. Take a deep breath, walk up to that new face, smile, stick out your hand and simply compliment them on the speech they just gave. For networking, you don’t need to walk up to anyone, rather you can start your conversation with the person sitting next to you. Moreover, being an introvert, you may dislike engaging yourself in idle talks, the best way to avoid this annoyance is to ask open-ended questions to the people of your interest. Some of the open-ended questions are “What presentation have you found the most interesting so far? How did you get involved in the healthcare IT business? What healthcare technology holds your interest in this conference?”
Build Relationships instead of selling yourself:
When it comes to big conferences and seminars, networking is generally associated with an awful perception that the majority of attendees engage themselves in useless talks and hope to advance in their careers. However, the moment you engage yourself in networking for the sake of building relationships rather than selling yourself you will notice that it’s far from the reality. Being an introvert, your greatest strength is listening; make sure you use it to your advantage. When you ask open-ended questions and really listen to your new acquaintances, it gives them the impression that you are actually interested in knowing them instead of selling yourself. It is always a better choice to form a few genuine relationships through a meaningful and deep conversation rather than exchanging piles of business cards with idle chatters.
Don’t Forget to Attend the Orient Session:
The HIMSS18 Pocket Guide will be quite helpful for pre-scheduling your routine at the conference. But if you need any further information to help you in planning your schedule, particularly if you are a first-timer at HIMSS, the orientation sessions by HIMSS are going to be held on Monday and Tuesday. You can ask conference-related questions to the HIMSS staff at these sessions or for schedule and more information you can also Visit the website.
Practice your Networking with the Vendors:
At the conference Exhibit Hall, vendors will be looking forward to having a conversation with the conference attendees. This it is a great chance for you to practice your networking skills. Just go over to the booths of the vendors you are interested in and have a conversation to learn more about their products, services, and values. Having a few of conversations will get you into a rhythm to go for a swifter conversation with other attendees.
Use Social Media:
Keep in mind some people at the conference may be introverts just like you! For those introverts who are not comfortable with in-person chatting, taking the conversation online is extremely helpful for them. There are dozens of group-chats about HIMSS18 on social media, particularly on Twitter. Start an online conversation with sharing your ideas and perspectives on Twitter with other attendees. First, start to build an online relationship with them by responding to their tweets and then ask them if they would like to have an in-person chat over coffee or the next lunch-break at the conference. Maybe at the end of the conference, you might have become a Twitter Influencer yourself. While using Twitter you can make sure to know the main hashtag of the conference like #HIMSS18 is the most important one to use.
Make sure you get a break from the Conference:
After the full-day of attending education sessions and networking with others, you will be extremely tired. Therefore, let your introvert-self take the control and look for some solitude from all the hustle and bustle of the conference. This year HIMSS has allotted relaxation areas so the conference participants can refresh their exhausted minds as well as recharge their electronic devices in some peaceful and relaxing spots. Most importantly don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep so that the next day you are reenergized to start a good and meaningful conversation with others.