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Networking Without the Elevator Pitch

E-health-banner-final02Every year, upwards of 1,500+ delegates travel across North America to attend Canada’s e-Health Conference and Tradeshow. Returning delegates continue to rant and rave about the excellent opportunity for direct access to members of the Health Informatics (HI) community. Meanwhile, a new cohort of Emerging Professionals (EP) anxiously prepare to attend what may very well be their first ever networking event.

Regardless of the organization you work for, your job title or your level of experience, networking is increasingly being recognized as a professional competency you need to develop in order to create your own success. Some manage effortlessly, while others dread the combination of breakfast meetings and business cards. Creating a culture that supports networking through mentorship, can allow budding industry professionals to practice talking to industry experts without the pressure of a well-rehearsed elevator pitch. In this blog, I discuss how mentorship can help EPs reframe their approach to networking at e-Health 2017.

Create your own opportunities

With an impressive roster of keynote presenters, panelists and vendors, e-Health 2017 offers many opportunities for top-quality learning. As a first-time attendee, finding ways to take advantage of conference offerings can be intimidating. Additionally, EPs may find it difficult to identify opportunities to connect with delegates. Strategic networking allows delegates to create their own opportunities. For EPs, this translates to aligning networking activities with organizational initiatives and planning who to speak to prior to the event. Taking the time to research industry experts in your field shows initiative and a willingness to learn. Reaching out to delegates before the conference will demonstrate your commitment to connecting on site, motivating industry experts to invest their time into speaking with you further. Once you have someone’s attention, recognize opportunities to tell your story.

Leading the conversation

Following an introduction, the onus is on you to lead the conversation. Determine whether there is potential to deepen your interaction with your contact by sparking rich conversation. Thoughtful conversations can help you build and sustain your relationship while you gain information about current projects in your industry. Prior to meeting your contact of interest, you may want to review your work experience to help you better articulate your interests in person. Sharing memorable experiences can help your potential mentor gain an understanding of the type of projects you would be interested in pursuing in the future. If you show active interest in the needs of your contact’s organization, it is more likely that they will invest their time into helping you pursue future opportunities. Remember, it is your mentor’s job to set an example, listen, discuss issues, and give leadership. However, it is up to you to lead the conversation. Asking well-thought out questions will help you gain insight into your industry.

 Build professional links

Moving forward, recognize that mentorship is more than a one-sided relationship. A common misconception is that only the person being mentored benefits from the relationship. In a successful mentorship, both the mentor and mentee learn from one another. Industry experts can help EPs build professional links by communicating their expertise and opening doors to otherwise hidden opportunities. Mentees can show their appreciation for their mentor’s time by highlighting what they have learned from their experience. After all, nothing motivates an industry expert to invest their time as much as being recognized for their life’s work.

Going forward

No matter how many business cards you’ve collected, personal moments are what create loyalty and result in long lasting relationships. Create your own opportunities, lead the conversation, build professional links and you will shine.

If you’re lucky enough to find a great mentor, you may discover the value of giving back to others. Invest your time into networking with a purpose and you will find people will go above and beyond to help you. Just don’t forget to pay it forward.

Want to learn more about networking with purpose? Visit irinamclaren.com to contact me.