How much networking did you do in Denver? Were you busy sending and accepting friend requests instead of unpacking your suitcase after the ASHA Convention? Whether you’re a seasoned professional or graduate student, the connections you make with others in our professions offer invaluable benefits and provide myriad opportunities for your career. I enjoyed networking at #ASHA15 and want to share a few ideas to help you do more than pass out business cards at the next convention.
Maybe you attended the conference with classmates or coworkers you already know. But don’t be afraid to take a pass on spending time with them. Attending a few sessions or poster presentations solo forces you to branch out and build new relationships with the people around you. Although a familiar social circle might feel more comfortable, it won’t help you build new contacts. You can meet up with your friends—invite your new connections, too—for debriefing dinners!
Arrive early, stick around
Use your program planner to your strategic advantage. Who would you like to meet? Plan to attend sessions where the presenter and potential audience members align with your networking goals. Arrive early and make small talk with others around you. Linger afterward to speak with presenters. As a conversation starter, comment on their presentation or ask a thoughtful question. I noticed many presenters holding in-depth conversations with audience members long after sessions ended.
Skilled follow-up really works to make a connection last. Once you return home, follow up on your preferred social media site by sending a personalized message referencing your interaction. Remind the person where you met and what you discussed. Feel free to close with a statement that invites them to continue the discussion. For example: “Dr. Smith, it was a pleasure to meet you at the ASHA Convention. Thank you for taking the time to discuss palliative care with me after your presentation. I shared your ideas about family education with my team and they can’t wait to use them.”
Finally, some convention attendees might be social butterflies, while others remain more reserved. Regardless of which one fits your personality, you can make convention work for you with these strategies. Next year, try making a few new connections.
What are your convention networking tips?
Sara Pool is a second-year graduate student at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She conducts research and is completing her thesis in the area of transgender voice. She was one of the 2015 Student Ethics Essay Awards recipients. Network with her on Twitter: @CanDoSLP. firstname.lastname@example.org