How to Decide on Attending a Conference

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You open your inbox and there it is. An email with details on an upcoming conference. Chock full of invigorating speakers, content you should know and a fun happy hour-esque event that will have live music – or something. Should you read on and learn more? And then the conference thoughts begin…

You know what I’m talking about. The rush of coordinating flights and hotels, connecting with colleagues and trying to figure out the best one to go for your/your company’s budget. If it’s during the summer or fall/winter, this is met with cramming in work travel before cramming in family holiday travel.

Double Yay!

So let’s dig in. The health innovation landscape has plenty to choose from so let’s try to reduce that state of frazzlement (yep, just made that up). We’re going to explore:

  • Expenses (self explanatory)
  • Your ROI with the event (what will you be doing to make it valuable?)
  • Alignment (does it fit with your goals, body of work aspirations?)

As I’ve travled around the country for most of my career, I’ve definitely picked up on a few things you should be asking yourself and considering. Now that conferences, events, meetups, mixers and summits are plentiful in our world of health & healthcare – this will become increasingly more important. You can’t do it all but you CAN be smart and strategic.

How Much Will It Cost?

Let’s go ahead and get this one out the way. Often times when it comes to meetings and conferences, the question of whether you can afford to attend comes up – fast. Whether you have direct access to shape a conference/travel budget or not, this is usually a make or break situation. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help clarify and prioritize:

Are there Volunteer Opportunities?

Back when I was still getting started in my career, I made it a point to get involved in conferences through volunteering. Sure, they may have had a student discount but hey, free is even better. More important though, was being given the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how the event was put together. Also, being able to interact with speakers at the registration table and preparing them for stage time was invaluable to growing my network. Lastly, don’t think the volunteer status is just for “those young kids and interns” – whether you’re growing your influence or are already well established, having the service-minded role of a volunteer can go a long way in the eyes of your peers. Oh yeah and ask about these opportunities early – they often fill up fast.

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