One aspect of empowering employees to their fullest potential is encouraging professional development. Going to an industry conference is beneficial in more ways than one – employees learn best practices, troubleshoot and network with other clinical research professionals.
However, you will only get out of a conference what you put into it. Being strategic about maximizing time at a conference will result in knowledge gained and relationships formed. Below are some tips for making the most out of your next conference.
Attend a Pre-Conference Workshop or Session
Oftentimes, a conference will offer a pre-conference workshop or a session about making the most out of your time. Attending one can easily set the tone for the rest of the conference itself and provide insight as to what exactly you will learn. Giving yourself an idea of what to expect during the conference allows you to focus in on which sessions will help you professionally, what information you can take back to your institution and which sessions will expand your knowledge about the industry.
Stay Engaged During Sessions
While any given session itself will provide you with more than enough information to take back to your own institution, you can get more out of your experience by engaging with attendees and presenters. Chances are, if you have a question, someone else has a similar (if not the same) question. Additionally, sharing your own institution’s experiences can help with troubleshooting questions others may have. Engaging with other attendees at the conference makes it easier to make connections and network with others.
Engaging in sessions requires being intentional with separating yourself from the day-to-day tasks back at your institution. While it may not be possible to detach from emails and other notifications entirely, muting distractions for a session and checking afterwards allows you to be fully present. Getting enough sleep during the conference also helps immensely with keeping attention span levels up throughout the day.
Network with Attendees
Conferences are filled with ample opportunities to get to know your peers, and while other attendees are from different institutions, everyone is working toward the same goal: advancing clinical research. Creating relationships with conference attendees opens doors to future collaborations, such as future studies. It’s also helpful to have someone outside your institution to reach out to if you have questions or want to learn more about their best practices.
Many times, conferences host welcome receptions, networking dinners or networking breaks. Attending scheduled events not only allows you to enjoy good food, drinks and camaraderie, but also allows your brain to reset and process what you’ve learned throughout the day. As jam-packed as conferences are, it’s important to take advantage of the times built in to let attendees decompress and have a little fun along the way.
Present a Session
Is there a topic you are particularly passionate or well-versed about? If it’s a goal of yours, consider presenting at a conference to share your expertise with others. There are many benefits to presenting at a conference – you may help others in a breakthrough they’ve been trying to reach, you can refine your presentation skills and it’s a unique way to meet more attendees at the conference.
Another benefit to presenting a session is potentially receiving a reduced registration rate. This is especially helpful in terms of getting the most for your money. Not only are you presenting a session, but attending sessions adds extra value to you being at the conference. Identifying a conference to go to early on and checking to see if there is a call for presentations is a great first step to achieving your goals and advancing clinical research.