In whatever field you are in, attending conferences is key for your professional success. My first conference ever attended during medical school was the Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC). This conference was my first time seeing so many ambitious minority medical professionals in one space. Not only was it very affirming of my decision to attend medical school, it gave me a lot of ideas on where I would like my career to go. For me, it is a pleasure to be able interact with and learn from individuals who exemplify different characteristics I would love to employ in my future career but also in my life in general. This type of conference not only fueled my motivation but also connected me to a larger purpose in medicine.
These sorts of powerful experiences are pivotal to your career success. I recommend you attend as many conferences as you can while developing in year career. Where else are you going to find as many bada$$es in your chosen profession in one place? That being said, I have a few tips for how to shine during these conferences. You want to stand out from the crowd while making a good impression! CLICK to see my IG post.
So what are my tips for getting the most of your conference experience?
1. Set a goal for each conference. Whether it be giving your resume to 10 individuals, practicing speaking to two new people you have never met before, or asking for opportunities to volunteer with a cause you are passionate about. Make sure to come up with one MUST DO. If you go home having accomplished this, your experience will have been a success. Feel free to brainstorm more but make sure to have one key goal MINUMUM.
2. Come with a set of two to three questions that you can ask everyone to get conversation flowing or in case the conversation lulls. These questions should relate to your overall goal (see above) if possible, but they could be random as well. Try to make them thought provoking and insightful. To help get your juices flowing, here are a few examples of questions I like to ask: "I'm new to the medical field. What advice would you give to a family member in my position?" Another which sparks great conversation is to ask what they think the biggest change in your field will in the next four years. Remember to keep your questions open ended. Yes/no questions don't facilitate the type of conversations you want to have. In my opinion, these sorts of thought provoking questions really help you to stand out as interested and unique.
3. MAKE BUSINESS CARDS. They are max $20 and are the best investment I have made into my career. I have traditionally used Vistaprint because they are super convenient. Your card can be super simple, but it really impresses people that you have your ish together if you come prepared. Bonus points if you can make your business card interactive. I like to add QR codes that link to my resume or website.
Here is an example of my business card. I like simple and clean. People loved the design!
4. Always dress professionally. Err on the side of more formal. People will never fault you for this, but may look down on more casual dress.
5. Be prepared to tell people about yourself. I recommend practicing a 30 second intro beforehand so that if you get nervous you are still prepared to impress.
6. SMILE!!!!!!! People want to talk to happy people. Smiling makes you look more approachable and opens the door to conversation. I see a lot of people trying to present themselves as super serious at conferences in order to be taken... well, more seriously. While professionalism is important, keep smiling. You never know what doors it might open.
The goal is to present yourself as a professional, ambitious and prepared individual. You may not always walk away from a conference with a new job, but conferences are an opportunity to make an impression, one that would make people eager to work with you in the future.