Get the most out of a veterinary conference - DVM
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Get the most out of a veterinary conference
Do: Meet and greet as much as possible. Don't: Wear flip-flops and a sweatshirt; be professional.


Use breaks as chances to learn

Don't use breaks to call your hospital; delegate duties before you leave. Breaks are for meeting and interacting with others. Learn, learn, and learn while you can. Have your own cards and ask for them from people you meet.

If you want to talk to the presenter after the session or at break time, make it brief. Ask only one or two questions. Also, try to avoid telling the presenter how you do it back home — no one cares but you.

If you especially like a session, send a handwritten thank-you to the presenter. I guarantee that a note or letter will be long remembered. I know — I still get my own handwritten thank-yous out from time to time.

Plan your exhibit hall strategy

Some never get beyond a 30,000-foot view of the hall. Each day of the conference, they walk around aimlessly, avoiding the gaze of exhibitors to hide from the hard sell. This approach is short-sighted. For one, the exhibit hall is a great place to make contact with people in the profession. Our industry is all about relationships — if you know people, they'll take care of you.

The exhibit hall is also the best place to buy equipment and books and compare medications. You can touch the merchandise and maximize your buying leverage. Why? Because their competitors are only a few aisles away.

Before you go, make a list of vendors you want to visit (by booth number) and then work your list methodically between professional sessions. Buy what you need — you'll never find better prices than at a convention — and take advantage of the opportunity to make friends. While in the sessions and after meeting with vendors, take notes. Notes help you summarize what you've found in the exhibit hall. Email this summary to yourself or your boss.

Be professional

An industry meeting is a place for professionals to meet and exchange ideas. If you participate in golf outings and extracurricular activities, try not to let these events interfere with the real reason you attend. Also, remember that professionals have an obligation to attend sessions for state licensure. Fudging on attendance is a reflection of poor moral character.

Is it party time? Having a drink or two may be okay, but if you're less than professional during the conference or in the evenings, trust that news of your actions will find its way "back home." Have fun, learn and visit the vendors ... but, above all, be professional.

Dr. Lane, a DVM graduate of the University of Illinois, owns and manages two veterinary practices in southern Illinois. Dr. Lane also completed a master's degree in agricultural economics in 1996. He is a speaker and author of numerous practice-management articles in this magazine and elsewhere. He also offers a broad range of consulting services. Dr. Lane can be reached by email at


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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