If you’re like me, industry events can be overwhelming. For many years, I avoided going to industry events because I always felt overwhelmed. There was always so much going on, so many vendors, so many people and so many activities. I never knew where to start.
Whenever I went to an event, I would only attend the courses I registered for and then head straight to my room. I didn’t “network” with anyone and unless I needed something specific, I avoided the exhibit hall.
I’ve always heard many people that I admire say that it was important to attend and that’s why I went to industry events. However, I would leave these meetings feeling, overwhelmed, exhausted and terrified about the future of Optometry.
Can you relate?
Well, it wasn’t until I discovered my “why” for going to meetings, that my experiences began to change. The truth is, I used to go to meetings because I was told to do so and because that is what doctors are supposed to do. I didn’t have a clear reason “why” I should attend.
To help me identify why I should attend events, I began asking my colleagues why they attended events. Out of all the responses I got, I compiled a list. From that list, I came up with 5 reasons why I should attend industry events in Optometry and I want to share them with you below. Hopefully, they will add value to you.
5 Reasons to Attend Industry Events
1. To Add Value
When you go to an industry event, don’t focus on what you need or what you want to ask for. That’s the mistake I made. I was focused on what I could get out of it and that was the wrong attitude.
Instead, focus on what you can offer. How can you help people at the conference? What can you give them? What do you have to offer the people you meet? That’s the mentality I want you to walk around with because it breeds authenticity and confidence. People will be naturally drawn to you and you won’t feel overwhelmed because you’ll be having fun.
2. To Network
Networking is about creating relationships with people who are a good fit for you and for whom you can be a good fit. Networking is about building trust and growing those relationships over time. Networking is about learning what it is that other people need to fulfill their dreams and revealing what you need as well. Networking is about helping one another make those dreams come true. What I realized is that networking is not about me, nor is it about you. Networking is about us, it’s about relationships.
When I finally understood that, I no longer felt pressured to network with the “important” people. All I had to do was be myself and be open to connecting with like-minded people and building relationships. That took all the pressure off me. I was free to be me and therefore, I had more fun.
3. To Inspire and be inspired
According to Vocabulary.com, Inspire means to excite, encourage, or breathe life into. Inspire comes from the Latin word that means to inflame or to blow into. When you inspire something, it is as if you are blowing air over a low flame to make it grow.
When you listen to others as they share their experiences, it can breathe life into you and vice versa. You don’t need any skills to do this. All you need to do is be open to listening and sharing. So, the next time you’re at an event, put the phone down and have a genuine conversation. You will leave inspired.
4. To Find Unique Solutions to Problems
In addition to being introduced to some top experts and vendors in the industry, events can help you learn about new and more efficient ways of doing things. Are you frustrated with an aspect of your practice right now and even though you’ve tried, you just can’t figure out a solution? I promise you that you’re not the only one. There are countless others going through the same thing. And most importantly, many of them have found a solution.
Attending curated events is a great way to connect with colleagues who are in similar situations. Or attending talks and lectures that address your specific challenges is also a great way to connect with those colleagues. Before you go to your next event, make a list of problems, frustrations or interests you currently have; then look for courses, talks, and vendors in that event who will address them. Register for those talks or classes and be sure to make appointments with those vendors. This will save you a lot of time and will give you the best return on your investment.
5. To Stay Informed
Attending industry events is an investment in your professional future. These events will keep you up to date with what is new and exciting in our industry. By going, you will be given the advantage of knowing about these trends as soon as they happen.
As a health care provider, you want to make sure that you’re providing cutting-edge care to your patients. As practice owners, you should be offering something new or improved every year to differentiate your practice. Industry events can help you make sure you are doing this on a continuous basis.
Industry events don’t have to be overwhelming, exhausting, or terrifying. They can be empowering, enlightening, and even life-changing. But, you must first discover your “why” for attending. These are my “whys” for going to industry events. I’m curious to know your reasons. Please share in the comments below.
If you’re a woman OD and would like to attend an event catered just for you, click on the button below to learn more about our upcoming Educational Retreat.
Until next time, remember to empower, connect and promote each other’s success!