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CME Credits

How to Network at a CME Conference

CME conferences combine high-quality educational content with downtime in vacation destinations, which is a draw for a lot of busy healthcare professionals looking to make the most of their time. Another benefit of in person continuing education events is the ability to network with other practitioners from around the world. Maybe you’re looking for ways to make your practice more effective with new technologies and trends or considering business opportunities adjacent to medicine. Regardless of your goals, these conference networking tips will help you make valuable connections.

1. Make Time for Networking

If making new connections is an important part of your conference experience, have a plan for when you’ll network with other attendees and presenters. CME Seminars’ half-day conferences are designed to give you plenty of time to meet your conference goals, whether that’s networking, relaxing on the beach or vacationing with family.

Never underestimate the potential of a quick conversation during breaks. Taking advantage of these short breaks to get to know the people around you can help you fit in networking even when you have plans with family or friends after sessions end for the day.

You can also use breaks as an opportunity to see where other participants are gathering for lunch, drinks or fun in the sun. Staying at the host hotel can make it easier to strike up a conversation with other attendees as well, whether it’s in the elevator or at the bar.

Of course, very few people can learn all morning and network all afternoon or evening. Give yourself breaks from networking, especially if conversation is beginning to feel difficult.

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Having a few questions in mind to jumpstart conversations can make networking at conferences a lot easier. Questions that let attendees talk about their practice and other interests are great. You can also have a few questions about the material presented so far, which is likely of interest to everyone you speak with. More general icebreaker questions are also an option.

Part of networking effectively is being able to explain what you do and what you’re passionate about quickly. This elevator pitch can help you find and connect with the right people.

3. Listen

It sounds simple but a lot of people have a hard time listening to what others have to say in a busy environment. With all the commotion (and fun!) of a travel CME conference, really focusing on the answers to the questions you’ve asked might be difficult. However, listening closely is the best way to get to know a potential connection.

4. Be Friendly

To make the most of your time networking, be someone you’d want to get to know. Be friendly, forgiving and accommodating to both yourself and others. Networking is not easy for a lot of people but graciously overlooking initial awkwardness or hesitation is often worth it. This goes for both others’ hiccups and your own.

Tip: Remembering someone’s name is the first step to successfully networking at a conference with them. A five-day conference is plenty of time to get to know someone but it’s awfully hard to introduce one acquaintance to another or flag someone down from across the room if you don’t remember their name! Some people seem to remember names more naturally than others. If you’re someone who struggles to remember names, try repeating them during conversation to help commit them to memory.

5. Lean on Existing Connections

Ask members of your existing network in attendance to introduce you to their connections where relevant. A personal introduction gives you common ground and makes striking up a real conversation a little easier. You should also make time to catch up with peers you haven’t seen in a while and want to maintain a relationship with.

However, you don’t want to stick so closely to people you already know that you can’t meet anyone new. Strike a balance between comfortable conversation with people you know you enjoy spending time with and new acquaintances who could be valuable to your practice or personal life.

6. Nurture New Connections

Networking at a conference to make new connections is just the beginning. After connecting with individuals, especially those you have something in common with like specialty or location, it takes work to build a real, mutually beneficial relationship. It is often helpful to take quick notes after a conversation you found valuable and make sure you have contact information for anyone you’d like to continue speaking with.