Two years ago, I attended my first conference at the World Diabetes Congress. I had no idea what happened at these events so there was no expectations. Just lots of aimless wandering around exhibition stands and tagging along with friends to various presentations. Fast forward to last week, where I had clear goals of what I wanted to get from the ADS/ADEA conference. So here are my final reflections and thoughts of the week.
Network. Network. Network!
Growing my network in the diabetes world was my primary goal for this conference. Being a bit of an introvert, this was a very confronting challenge. My biggest problem was how to start a conversation with someone and also recognising faces and names I know online in real life. To resolve my first problem, I told myself I really just needed to get over myself and introduce myself, where I’m from and how I got to know them. After a bit of practice, this started becoming easier. As for my latter problem…I need to start developing skills in discrete name tag reading I think!
Networking isn’t just about making new connections. Strengthening your existing relationships are equally important. I’m especially glad to have had to opportunity to catch up with some of my interstate colleagues, I now call friends and share a laugh or two with them.
Tweet Away (Mindfully)!
As usual, there were only a handful of people live tweeting sessions from the conference over the week. Live tweets throughout conferences can be especially handy for tuning into concurrent sessions without needing to clone yourself. However, more often than not, the same group of us tended to attend the same sessions! So that didn’t quite work out. Nonetheless, it was awesome getting more people on Twitter thanks to Renza from Diabetogenic and Jayne from EdHealth Australia.
Live tweeting a session helps me to focus on the content and pick apart and share important information in less that 140 (-12 thanks to the long #adsadea2015 hashtag) characters. But this skill actually took me a while to develop and I’m still learning to be more succinct and selective of what I share, keeping in mind the people who may read the tweets. Often these could be other researchers, healthcare professionals or the diabetes online community. People reading the tweets who are not at the session should be able to paint a good picture of the what is being presented from reading your tweets.
Finally, I cannot emphasise the importance of having conference wing-buddies to look out for you and even help you to grow your network (or share Nutella donuts with). Sometimes, seeing a familiar face in the crowd can be extremely comforting. Special big thanks to Renza and Kim for making sure I get back safely to my hotel every night and for letting me tag along.
*Update: How could I also forget to thank everyone on Twitter for your retweets and joining in on the Twitter fun! You guys rock 🙂