In addition to educational offerings, the best conferences provide networking opportunities to help you develop relationships with others in your field.
Whether you’re attending the IHI National Forum, IHI Summit, or, really, any other conference, a little preparation before you arrive can help you take full advantage of what is likely a rare opportunity to get away from your day-to-day work:
- Attend at least one activity — Review the conference schedule and plan to join at least one gathering in addition to the primary educational sessions. Receptions, storyboard rounds, or affinity group meetings can bring new ideas and energy to your work. Next week’s IHI National Forum is filled with many networking opportunities and activities.
- Bring your business cards — How many times has someone at a conference asked you for a business card, and you’ve had to reply, “Sorry, I don’t have any with me!” Set a reminder to pack some cards right now (on your calendar, phone, etc.) for the last day you plan to be in your office before you leave. Plan to put your cards with whatever item you know you’ll bring to the main conference area with you, e.g., your phone, wallet, conference guide, etc.
- Write notes on the back of business cards you get — To remember a conversation, make a quick note about your plan for follow-up on the back of the card, e.g., “Contact for checklist” or “Send article about physician burnout.”
- Keep the cards you collect in one place — Decide on a single place to keep the cards you get so you can find them easily later. The pocket of your name badge holder is a perfect spot.
- If you’re an introvert, plan accordingly — Even if you’re not naturally outgoing, you can make meaningful new connections if you match available activities to your strengths and interests.
The theme of this year’s IHI National Forum is “strategize.” Consider taking the theme to heart by planning how to make the most of the many chances the Forum offers to meet and connect with dedicated health care improvers like you.