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…..
- 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?