Eased into HIMSS with the fun and relaxing social events of Sunday behind me, Monday marked the beginning of my workweek. I have two goals this week – I want to meet as many new colleagues as possible, expanding my network of contacts, and I want to meet as many colleagues as possible who I’ve already formed a relationship with virtually, but have yet to meet in person. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
I kicked off the morning by uploading my HIMSS10 Day One blog post, returning emails, and taking care of a few business matters that were immune to the fact I was at HIMSS. Suited up, I then grabbed a cab from the Georgia Tech Hotel (I cannot say enough good things about this hotel choice – great people, fabulous service, wonderful food, and a very cool bar) and $12 later walked into the Georgia World Congress Center. Note: It’s important to tell the cab driver which Exhibit Hall you are heading to – otherwise they assume you are going to A/B, and might be a wee bit exasperated with you for saying something along the lines of, “Oh I’m sorry, I need to go to Exhibit Hall C – do you mind driving around?” I’m thinking “driving around” like when you go to one side of the mall to pick up your kids at the food court, and then you remember the entrance is actually over on the other side. So you drive around. Uh…no. “Driving around” to Exhibit Hall C entails a completely different route, as I found out, and probably should have warranted an additional $8, so I gave the nice gentleman a $4 tip. I use the word “nice” in an ironic sense – the look he gave me in the rearview mirror when I told him my exact destination would have reduced a lesser woman to tears. I’m actually happy I’m living to tell this tale.
When I entered the Exhibit Hall, I passed a little kiosk that helped you find your way in the Exhibit Hall. I knew the Booth # of my destination, so was thinking, “How hard can it be?” Well… hard. Like nearly impossible. Especially for the directionally challenged. So 15 minutes later, back to the kiosk (which I was thrilled to have found again).
Once you punch in the exhibitor’s name, a little map pops up to show you the way. Very cool. I’ll have to hand it to HIMSS – they know how to handle the details. Fortunately I discovered little map kiosks strategically placed throughout and we quickly became BFFs. My client meetings went extremely well – as much as we all love technology, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction.
Carter Groome, First Choice Professionals
In addition to meeting clients I also had the pleasure of meeting, for the very first time in person, the wonderful staff from Healthcare Informatics, who I’ve worked with for over a year. The Healthcare Informatics booth is in a great location (Exhibit Hall C!), and had a very steady stream of attendees coming through to, I’m sure, pitch the writers on all sorts of products and services that they hope to see covered by the publication.
I believed I’d done a good job of spacing my set appointments out throughout the day, giving me plenty of time to attend educational sessions and walk through the exhibit halls, but I was sorely mistaken. I had intended to go to the HIMSS Communities Open House at 5pm, but decided to run back to the hotel to freshen up for the evening’s social events, and rest my feet since my footwear of choice was very fashionable, but not meant for miles of Exhibit Hall perusing. (Now if someone could come up with a cute heel that feels like a sneaker – every woman at this convention would be using them. Meaningfully.) There really isn’t enough time to do it all – it’s a lot like going to Disney World for three days and having to decide what’s most important – “Space Mountain” or the Aerosmith “Rockin Roller Coaster.” Something’s gotta give. So I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to attend any of the educational sessions – but am still putting the day in the victory column due to the fact that I finally met so many of my business associates in person.
First stop on the evening’s agenda was Healthcare Informatics’ Innovator Awards Reception, held on the 16th floor of the “W” Hotel. Very posh, very contemporary, and very well done. The massive windows offered a breathtaking view of the downtown city lights, and the mood was festive and fun.
In addition to seeing the HCI staff, I was also excited to meet Dr. Joe Bormel in person, another fellow blogger and virtual friend. Many of the party-goers seemed to know each other well – I’ve heard from so many that HIMSS is like “old home week” for them and for many others who have been in the industry for a long time – it shows in the warm way that people react when an old colleague walks in. That’s a good sign for the health of the industry, in my opinion.
Although I wanted to stay longer, I had a previous commitment that forced me to leave the party early – the HIStalk Party. Not just the HIStalk Party, but since I had been personally invited by Inga herself to present two awards at the party, I had work to do. Inga had asked me to wear a sash that said, “I might be Inga,” and then scope out the two sexiest pairs of shoes at the party (if you follow HIStalk, you know that Inga loves hot shoes). Therefore, I needed to get there at least a half an hour before the awards started, to do the shoe reconnaissance. Everything was going according to plan – I left the HCI party in plenty of time with Tim Tolan, met up with Pam Arlotto, and then Tim was nice enough to drive the three of us to Max Luger’s Grill. Except Tim and his Garmin with the sexy male British accent went the wrong way. Twice. So by the time we pulled up, I had exactly three minutes in stealth mode to find two sexy pairs of shoes and the names of their owners. I was a little bit panicked, to be honest. 300 + people were waiting for me to kick off the awards ceremony hosted by none other than Jonathan Bush and Ivo Nelson, and I’m sexy shoeless. Just when I thought I might have to simply give the awards to myself (because my black boots were pretty hot), I hear, “Gwen Darling!” from a woman at the bar. I turn and look and much to my delight discover Lisa McGrath, one of the most respected healthcare marketers in the industry, and one of my virtual Healthcare IT Twitter friends. Even though we’d never met in person, I felt comfortable saying to her, “Help me find some hot shoes and the name of the person wearing them, in the next minute. Please.” Lisa bolted off her bar stool and within seconds came back whispering two words, “Jennifer Lyle.” I spotted Cassie Thiessen’s footwear, literally, on my way up to the stage, and we were in business! Both winners received an “Inga Loves My Shoes” sash, and my hard work was done for the evening.
The rest of the night was spent power networking. Not only did I get to meet several existing clients, I also met many potential clients who I’m very excited to start an official dialogue with next week after we all have a day or two to recover. (I did take the time, though, to send quick “great to meet you” emails as soon as I got back to the hotel – highly recommended). The evening was definitely a bit hit for HIStalk and the party sponsors, and a success for me personally, as well. Exhibit halls are great for seeing a potential client or employers’ goods and/or services, but in my opinion, very often the key relationships in your career are a result of networking through social events. And there are plenty of them at HIMSS from which to choose!
So there you have Day Two. Tuesday is my most challenging day, schedule-wise, so we’ll see what happens. If you’re not, wish you were here and if you are, I hope to meet you!