Learning how to get the most out of a veterinary conference can provide tremendous value to a veterinarian’s career.
Veterinary conferences offer tremendous opportunities. You can gain CE credits, hear from a specific presenter, provide a presentation yourself, grow your network, learn about the latest innovations in your field, or simply gain an excuse for a trip out of town. Veterinary conferences offer plenty of value, however, without the right approach and preparation, the majority of that value can easily be missed!
Based on what we’ve learned ourselves, along with what we’ve heard from veterinary practitioners, educators, and students; here are our top 10 tips for getting the most out of a veterinary conference. Taking these tips into consideration will help you get the most out of your next (or first) conference.
Before The Veterinary Conference Starts
1 – Reach out to people you’d like to connect with
Veterinary conferences are very busy. Lot’s of people attend, and there are many different things to do, which combined makes it very difficult to cross paths with people by chance. Identifying speakers and attendees you would like to connect with ahead of time, and reaching out to them prior to the conference, is one very effective practice. We like to try and set up a few breakfast meetings or coffee conversations, and have them scheduled before we even arrive. Even if people aren’t available, they’ll be more likely to remember your name, and it will be easier to connect with them later!
2 – Offer to help out
Once you’ve registered to attend a veterinary conference, reach out to the organizers and ask if there’s any way you can help out. This could be helping with something small and easy, or it could even be as far as offering to contributing to a panel or presentation. Volunteering a little bit of your time is a fantastic way to make new connections, get your name out there, and is likely to get you insider information and perks come conference time.
3 – Map out your plan of attack
Your veterinary conference schedule can quite easily turn to mayhem without a well-structured plan of attack. So be sure to read through the conference website and materials ahead of time, and plan a rough schedule for the workshops, speakers, events and exhibits you would like to take in. Create a plan ahead of time to help stay composed, and ensure you don’t miss out on anything important! Keep in mind you can always change your plans later if you feel it makes sense.
During the Conference
4 – Arrive early
The early bird gets the worm, veterinary conferences included. Make sure you arrive early each day to get the best seats in workshops, first dibs on breakfast, and skip the huge lines at registration. Additionally, arriving early gives yourself a few minutes to review your plan for the day, and familiarize yourself with where everything is.
5 – Focus on one key takeaway from each presentation
You will be overwhelmed by information and introductions all conference long, and your brain will overflow if you try to retain everything. Most presentations and workshops can be distilled down to one key takeaway, so focus on figuring out what that is, and write it down to make remembering even easier.
6 – Network, network, network!
Drag yourself out of your hotel room, and be sure to attend the conference’s networking events too. Introduce yourself to new people, hand out your business cards, and you never know where your networking will lead!
7 – Visit the exhibitor hall
The exhibitor hall isn’t only filled with sleazy salesman waiting for someone to mistakenly make eye contact. It’s also a great place to learn about new innovations, medications and methods, and provides another great networking opportunity.
8 – Take time to recharge
There’s no need to feel guilty if you aren’t constantly in a workshop or networking. Be sure to take recharge breaks throughout the veterinary conference, and your brain and body will thank you!
After the Conference
9 – Follow-up
Reaching out ahead of time and attending networking events is sure to earn you many valuable connections. Be sure to follow-up with your new connections following the conference. This can be done by simply sending an email saying “nice to meet you”, or suggesting a plan for continuing the professional relationship.
10 – Share your new wisdom
One of the main reasons to attend a veterinary conference is to bring home new insights and knowledge to benefit your practice. Once you’ve returned home, be sure to share what you learned with the rest of your team! Sharing knowledge not only helps your peers, but it also helps increase your credibility, and further boost your personal brand!
Veterinary conferences are a common occurrence in veterinary life. Thankfully, they are also a tremendous way to earn required CE credits, grow your network, build your personal brand, and stay at the bleeding edge of your field.
This past weekend we were in beautiful Banff, AB for the annual CanWest Veterinary Conference. The reception for EasyAnatomy from attendees was fantastic! Most of our time was spent either signing up new EasyAnatomy users, or hearing terrific feedback and suggestions from others. CanWest was the first veterinary conference the LlamaZOO team has attended. We wanted to make it (along with future conferences we attend) was valuable a time as possible, and that inspired us to write this guide.
To see why EasyAnatomy caused such a stir at the CanWest Veterinary Conference, head to the EasyAnatomy homepage.