6 Networking Tips for Diabetes Conferences
Diabetes Conferences Done Right
Going to a diabetes conference can seem overwhelming. Sure there are great speakers, new technology to check out and even carb-counted food! But sometimes there’s so much good stuff going on it can be difficult to leave feeling like you accomplished anything. How to make the most of your time? I go to quite a few conferences, most recently I spoke at “Diabetes Day” in Greenville, SC. I thought it might be helpful to give some advice about how to make the most of these conferences and still have fun.
#1 Set a goal. You won’t be able to see and do everything. Conferences are jam-packed, usually with multiple speakers and sessions which overlap or occur at the same time. Grab the schedule before you go and pick one or two must-dos. That could be a particular speaker, finding out about a product or getting the answer to a question you have.
#2 Meet someone new. Reach out during a coffee. Sit with someone new at breakfast. Personal connections are one of the best parts of these conferences. When are you ever in a room with this many people who “get it?” Make a friend, get their contact info, and bring some of that conference goodness home so when you need it, you can find it. When you’re having a bad day and you need someone who understands, your D-pal will be there.
#3 Drop off the kids. If it’s a family conference and they have childcare or kid activities, let your kids go. I’d even recommend you turn off the Pebble watch or shut down Share. The children are in good hands and they’re probably learning great stuff themselves. If you need to, check in between sessions, which are usually less than an hour. It’s tough to listen and learn when your attention is somewhere else (I know D-parents are experts at this, a conference with specific diabetes-kid-care is the perfect time for a break).
#4 Talk to a speaker or presenter. Have a question? Just want to say thanks? After the presentation, let that person know that what they had to say made a difference. That’s a really big deal to most of the people who take the time to travel to these conferences. You can often get a specific questions answered that might have been off-topic during their discussion. Or ask for a product review. If you don’t know what to say, just say thanks!
#5 Find the reps. The vendors are there to answer your questions and to let you touch and feel the tech. Sure, they’re there to sell you a product, but they take their jobs seriously. They want to help you find the pump, CGM or meter that’s right for you. If you’re local, get their business card and call them again after the conference. They may be able to meet with you one-on-one. And hit them up for conference swag and samples.
#6 Sign up. Not yet involved? A conference is a great place to jump in. You can learn more about advocacy, volunteering, clinical trials and more. Sometimes you just need to concentrate on taking care of yourself or your child’s diabetes. But when you’re ready, helping someone else with diabetes is often the best thing you can do for yourself. This is an incredible community. There’s a place for anyone and everyone who wants to help. A conference is a great place to learn about opportunities to lend a hand in whatever way you can.