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27 Years & Counting - Making the Most of HIMSS

March 16, 2009
by Pam Arlotto
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Yes, that’s right. This year will be my 27th consecutive year attending HIMSS. From my first year as a presenter in San Diego, when we probably had less than 200 attendees at the Hospital Management Systems Society annual conference, to the groundbreaking 500 attendees in Vegas when I served as National President (we had a Burger King in the lobby of our one hotel), to the year that I attended a few weeks after giving birth to my second child (luckily it was in my hometown), to Orlando (it seems every other year) and finally to Chicago where we’ve finally gotten big enough or brave enough to move away from sunny climates. With all of this “experience”, I thought I’d share a few pointers for getting the most out of your time in Chicago. I’m going to start with Networking…..

Networking

  • Schedule at least 10 people to reconnect with. Reach out to them in advance and plan time to catch up. One day at HIMSS, can replace months of good intentions to “get together” – even for those colleagues who work right around the corner
  • Identify at least 5 new people you want to meet. Ask for introductions from a friend, use Linked In to identify potential connections, and target those who might offer good advice, potential career opportunities or additional connections
  • Understand your role in helping others. Recognize that you have something to offer, too. Dedicate some of your time to help mentor younger professionals, to assist individuals searching for positions, or to brainstorm with colleagues facing tough challenges
  • Find someone new to HIMSS. You can always pick them out on the exhibit floor - that deer in the headlights look. Spend a few minutes helping them get oriented. It can be overwhelming, even for the veterans 
  • Review all of the education sessions, vendor events, parties, etc to determine where the people most like you or least like you will be. Leave early, stay out late. It’s exhausting but well worth it
  • Pick a spot. Find one place to land, and let people find you. Some great spots from old timers include: lobby of hotel next to convention center, registration, the HIMSS bookstore, the Consultants Corner or if you are a CIO – the CIO Lounge
  • Divide and conquer. Don't stay with those you came with. You will have plenty of time to debrief when you return to work.
  • Wander around. Although I don’t advise doing this for the whole conference, sometimes just walking around you will have chance encounters that help build your network in unexpected ways

What are some of your best tips (serious and not so serious) for networking at HIMSS?

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Comments

I too have been to all HIMSS meetings, and even before HIMSS when it was the AHA Info Syst group headed up by Stan Jacobs...so yes I am that old!
Anyway here is my one and only critical advice:
WEAR COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES... forget about style!

Thanks Pam.

- Regarding the educational sessions, in my experience, most are extremely rich in content. I've purchased the multi-media offering for several years. It used to be a CD with mp3 audio and pdfs. In recent years, it's offered over the Internet and includes several sessions in video. For those of us who maintain expertise within a specific, narrow focus, like CPOE at Community Hospitals, or use of CDDS for clinical safety and quality, these materials are essential. The multimedia offerings also address the space/time problem - we can't be everywhere.

My first HIMSS? I was indoctrinated by a prior employer, a vendor, with the messaging for the HIMSS meeting. I was taught to say "We're the only vendor that combines clinical and financial data." When I arrived and walked about the show floor, I found that every single vendor there 'was the only vendor that combines clinical and financial data.' Now, for me 15 years later, I'm still hearing that same 'visionary' messaging.


Great article. Networking is, and in my opinion, has always been HIMSS' strong point. Two ideas which may be obvious are to visit your local HIMSS Chapter's luncheon. Many of the Chapters hold one and they're nice opportunities to catch up with colleagues in your state. Secondly, some of the big vendor gala's are also good places to meet people that you may be able to share good war stories with.

P.S. The NJ Chapter of HIMSS will be holding it's chapter luncheon on Tuesday April 7th 2009 from 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Located at the Chicago Convention Center McCormick Place
Room W12CD.

Visit the NJHIMSS site at www.njhimss.org to sign up (it's FREE) but you do need to register online.

I'm going to be in the HCI booth during booth hours so am looking forward to all of you stopping by to say hello. I'm also making a point to attend the educational sessions where people I've interviewed are presenting. I finally get to meet them in person!

Pam Arlotto

President and CEO, Maestro Strategies

Pam Arlotto’s blog focuses on the business and clinical value of the healthcare industry’s...