Sara Salo, MPH

Health through

Do a conference right

Are they a waste of time or important networking opportunities?

It’s ALL up to you. 


Multi-day meetings can be tedious, irrelevant, and a waste of your time – if you let them.
Today I challenge you to take a new approach to your next conference. Below are my guidelines
for getting the most out of any professional gathering, even if the content itself isn’t up to par.

1) Choose your seat wisely.
Seating arrangements are important opportunities to place yourself near someone influential. If you spot an open chair next to a presenter or a person of interest – grab it. Conferences are about networking, so don’t be shy. Introduce yourself! And don’t drift towards the familiar. Instead, try to sit by someone new at each session.

2) Be independent.
You probably traveled to your meeting with coworkers. Ditch them! You’ll meet more people as an individual than in a clique of friends. Choose sessions that best fit your interests, even if that means attending by yourself.

3) Pay attention. Or at least don’t distract others.
Do not, I repeat – do not – sit in the back of the room, open your laptop and start typing loudly. This is exceedingly disrespectful. Plus, folks will notice your flippant attitude, and one of those people just might be your next potential funder or employer. If you must let your mind wander, use a standard notepad and discreetly make notes by hand.

4) Ask questions.
A great way to demonstrate your interest in a topic or stand out among the crowd is to ask a question or contribute to a discussion. Just make sure your comment is succinct and clearly composed; long-winded or self-centered questions will almost certainly garner eye-rolls from the crowd.

5) Remember your business cards.
Providing your card along with a quick personal note shows that you are professional AND personable. Two important qualities for career advancement in any field.

Basically, conferences are a fantastic chance to make an impression on others in your industry. The strategies above will help you to come away with positive outcomes from even the most boring of meetings. Good luck and get to work!

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