There are so many reasons to attend a conference in your field, such as the 2017 Medical Writing & Communication Conference. Great educational opportunities? Check. Intensive workshops facilitated by knowledgeable and experienced presenters? Check. The chance to get away from the office and refresh your motivation and enthusiasm for the field and your career? Check. But experienced conference-goers know why they really go to conferences in their field. It’s the Networking.
For many folks used to sitting at home on their computer thinking and writing and editing, this may strike fear in their hearts. But I am here to tell you it’s the best thing about the conference and you are missing out if you do not talk to your fellow conference-goers!
A Little Advice
Here’s some advice for those new to AMWA, the annual conference, or medical communication:
- Attend the “New to AMWA and Medical Communication” session before the conference, followed by the “Speed Networking” session.
- Sign up early for the Thursday night chapter and regional networking dinners.
- Be sure to bring lots of business cards. You never know who you will meet and it’s much easier to connect with people after the event if you both have business cards.
- Create or update your LinkedIn profile, so that people can find you on there after the event. Make sure you have a current, professional photo of yourself.
If you have been to the conference before and don’t have business cards or a LinkedIn profile, do it! If your company doesn’t provide business cards or you’re between jobs, order some yourself from Vistaprint (cheap), Moo (nice but more expensive), or any number of other companies. In this day and age, those two elements are essential for any professional.
If you are on social media, be sure your Twitter handle is on your cards, so you can connect with folks you meet through Twitter.
A Little Philosophy
In my opinion, there are two parts to networking. The first part is just to meet new people. Be curious, ask questions, get to know them and find commonalities. You will meet some people where you don’t get along, and that’s fine. Move on. Then there are people where you share traits, hobbies, commonalities in where you work or what you do. With these folks, continue to build your connection over the course of the conference and connect after the conference.
The second part is to deepen connections with those you already know (even if you just met them). After a few years coming to the conference, you will find yourself catching up with old friends to deepen relationships. This is one reason experienced conference-goers keep coming back.
Whether you are new to AMWA or an experienced conference-goer, embrace serendipity. You don’t know who you will meet and what they might do and what you can learn from them. There are so many different types of medical communicators…maybe you’ll find a new type of work or industry. While you’re in this “magical” place, allow yourself the freedom to explore new horizons and meet new people.