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HIMSS18: A Guide to Networking at Health IT’s Largest Conference

HIMSS18 is just around the corner and with so many events on tap, we understand if you’ve been too busy making your schedule to map out your networking strategy. But as the hype around the conference reaches a fever pitch, now is a great time to start making plans for the people you want to meet and how you want to socialize.

HIMSS offers a plethora of networking opportunities designed specifically to help professionals relax, get together and have discussions that will ultimately help them create new connections.

Here are some things to consider as you put together a strategy for connecting with your fellow health IT professionals.

Places to Network and De-Stress

Obviously, Las Vegas isn’t a bad town to meet new people and try new things. But you’ll want to stay focused and not let the distractions of the Entertainment Capital of the World get in the way of you doing some networking. Here are three locations at the event that offer built in opportunities to meet new people.

Networking Hubs

The three networking hubs at HIMSS offer areas to relax, charge your devices and make new connections with other conference attendees. They are located at The Venetian Resort in different areas, so keep your eyes peeled. Among the amenities you’ll find massage chairs and other ways to take a load off between sessions.

HIMSS Spot

Take this opportunity to talk with HIMSS staff and other conference goers about hot topics at the conference. Here, you’ll find information regarding HIMSS resources for your entire organization, learn about HIMSS initiatives as well as opportunities to be more involved with HIMSS and the mission to revolutionize healthcare through information and technology.

In addition to all that professional talk, you can keep things light with some lawn games and drawings.

HIMSS18 Living Room

This area is open to all registered conference attendees and includes a cash bar in a convenient location to meet others. It’s open throughout the day and is a perfect spot to unwind at the conference.

Networking Events

HIMSS offers a number of events that are dedicated to networking specifically. Here are ones you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

HIMSS18 Opening Reception

When/Where: Monday, March 5, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Venetian Convention Center Hall G

A complimentary opportunity to network, this kickoff to the larger event has an old school arcade theme to help conference goers have a little fun after the opening keynote. There will be live music, food, drinks and games to break the ice and get you connecting with other attendees right from the start.

HIMSS18 Education Social Hour

When/Where: Thursday, March 8, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Venetian Convention Center

Another free event taking place on Thursday, March 8 is a social hour designed to give you the opportunity to meet speakers from the conference in person. It’s also a great chance to meet new people and exchange knowledge and ideas gained at the conference.

Women in Health IT Networking Reception

When/Where: Wednesday, March 7, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Venetian Convention Center Palazzo Pool

One of the most popular events at HIMSS, this reception provides an opportunity to celebrate and exchange ideas with leading female thinkers in health IT. There are a significant number of entrepreneurs in attendance at the reception, which is designed to provide mentorship from women who have found success and create new connections between females in the field.

There is an additional $45 fee for this session, but the session proves well worth it for women looking to share their ideas with other women. Interact with other attendees on social media under #WomeninHIT.

Millennials Reception

When/Where: Tuesday, March 6, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Paris Hotel – Hexx Kitchen & Bar

This afterhours reception has become a big hit in recent years as a way for young professionals to connect. Space is limited, so hurry and join the conversation with other attendees going to #GenY4HIT.

In addition to these sessions, there are a number of chapter and community specific networking events on offer. For a complete list of HIMSS18 networking opportunities, visit the HIMSS networking events page.

And don’t forget, if you start your efforts on social media, it helps to use hashtags. Here are some that will prove to be handy.

Networking Tips

While it may seem easy, networking is more than just talking to people and making your presence known in a room. So here are some strategies to get you ready for a busy conference.

  • Keep a List of People to Meet– It might sound counterintuitive compared to just meeting people and letting the conversation flow, but some planning is vital to success. Do some preliminary research about who will be at the conference and who has mutual connections or interests that will serve as an easy icebreaker. Use social media to create connections beforehand and interact with others under conference hashtags to increase your potential audience. This will help you build a list of people to interact with that will fill your schedule.
  • Practice an Efficient Introduction– Think 30 seconds or less. Do you want to listen to others ramble on about themselves for minutes at a time? Probably not. You’re there to become familiar with one another and connect over specific topics. A 30-second or less introduction that provides the vital information (where you’re from, who you work for, something interesting about your work) and gives them a sense of you is all that is needed.
  • Listen More Than You Talk– Odds are you aren’t there to lead conversations as much as you are to learn. So don’t take over a group discussion or even one-on-one conversation with self-talk. You risk appearing braggadocious and will not be able to make genuine connections that will benefit you long-term unless you engage and share the room equally with everyone around you.
  • Don’t Be a Ghost, Either– You don’t want to overdo it, but you still want to be present and interested. You should always try to make eye contact, shake hands and at least exchange pleasantries. First impressions matter and you don’t want to appear uninterested, snobby or uptight.
  • Have Business Cards at the Ready– You’re not the only one who is going to meet too many people to remember. Have a business card on hand for people to remember you by and contact you with.
  • Follow Up– When you return from the conference, follow up with people you want to maintain connections with before they forget about you and move on. If you wait a few months or even weeks, it may be too late. A simple email saying that you enjoyed meeting them and would appreciate their perspective or advice in the future may be all you need.
  • Remember Why Everyone is There– The other people at the conference have come for many of the same reasons you have. They want to meet new people and engage in fascinating conversation just as much as you. Everyone is nice, everyone is social and just about anyone can have some value as a connection. So don’t hesitate to talk and be real. Show interest in their passions and show curiosity for subject areas you may not know about. Others don’t care how much you know as much as they will be excited to see that you want to know. Your curiosity may just be the start of a collaboration.
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