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How to Conference - NPX Newsletter Spring 2022

How to Conference: A (Brief) User Guide
by Nira Kadakia, PharmD, BCACP

The past two years have brought about innovative ways to socialize and grow your professional networks as COVID-19 caused cancellations of in-person events and activities or moved events to online-only formats. These events include professional conferences. As the Ohio Pharmacists Association Annual Conference and other professional meetings return to in-person formats, you may find you have forgotten “how to conference.” Here are some tips and tricks to help prepare you for these networking events.

Prepare beforehand.

Attending a conference may require out-of-town travel and accommodations. Purchase travel tickets and any necessary accommodations well before the conference to ensure you have a way to get where you want to go and have a place to stay once you get there. Think about what you need to bring for the conference – clothes, business cards, a water bottle, snacks, note-taking tools, etc. Part of the preparation includes making sure you’re actually registered for the conference. Story time: one time, there was a professional meeting in a different city. I was so excited to visit this city that I unknowingly forgot to register for the conference ahead of time and ended up paying a lot more for my conference registration since it was last minute. Learn from my expensive mistake!

Reflect on what you want out of the conference.

Are you attending the conference to learn new skills, interview for residencies or jobs, or meet with vendors or colleagues? Think about what you hope to gain from your time at the conference. You may want to develop an elevator pitch that you can use when meeting other people that helps them get to know you quickly and brings attention to what you hope to gain from your experience.

Plan sessions to attend.

Conferences often utilize apps or online itinerary managers to help attendees organize which sessions will be offered at the conference, what they’re about, and who the speakers are. Think about topics you’re interested in learning more about and people you’d be interested in meeting or with whom you’d be interested in speaking. Use these tools to plan out your conference schedule to personalize your experience.

Allow for some breaks.

Again, some of these conferences are in different cities, and there may be a plethora of activities to do when you’re not attending learning sessions. These are also great times to catch up with friends and colleagues. Additionally, there often are a lot of different activities occurring throughout the conference; it can be very easy to fill your days to the brim. Remember to take some time for yourself to relax and unwind each day!

Most important of all, HAVE FUN!

Nira Kadakia, PharmD, BCACP, is the current vice-chair of the Ohio Pharmacists Association New Practitioner Experience and is an assistant professor of teaching in pharmacy practice at University of Findlay College of Pharmacy. When she’s not doing pharmacy things, you can find Nira reading, binge-watching TV shows, or exploring new places.

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