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Four Survival Tips for HIMSS16

If you're attending HIMSS16, you can read about the conference [here].

If you're thinking about attending, you may have trouble finding a hotel room at this point, but if you have plans to attend and this is your first time, I have a few pointers (or reminders for HIMSS veterans...) that may help.

ONE: Prioritize your objectives

There is a lot going on at HIMSS and each year, it expands. What I've found helpful is to spend a bit of time thinking about what I want to accomplish at HIMSS and prioritize those objectives. That helps me focus on key topics I want to explore, key technologies I want to learn about, key presentations/seminars I may want to attend. Once it's prioritized, it's a lot easier to plan my week.

TWO: Plan your week

Going to HIMSS without a plan is certainly something you can do, but as a healthcare IT leader, you may want to ensure you get the most out of the week. If you come from a typical organization, it's possible you can't attend HIMSS every year due to financial or operational constraints, so when you do get the opportunity, make full use of it. It really pays off to read through the conference materials in advance and plot out your week. There are many opportunities that recur, others are one-and-done. Make sure you plot the course of your week so you can accomplish your objectives. Make sure you look at the after-hours networking events - these can be great ways to connect with your peers and learn in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Tip: Don't over-schedule yourself, you'll stress out trying to run back and forth among the various events. Leave a bit of free time for number FOUR, below.

There's a mobile app you can download - I downloaded it, I'll wait to see how useful it ends up being, but it promised to remind me about things I want to see or do, so I'm optimistic it will help me plan my week.

THREE: Divide and conquer

There is more to do and see at HIMSS than one human being can take in. If you're going with colleagues or if you're meeting up with colleagues from other organizations, divide up the conference and then compare notes. That way you can gain the knowledge and insights from more than just your own sessions and you can share what you learned (a great way to cement your new-found knowledge). Besides, it can help reduce conference overload and fatigue. Added benefit: You'll cement those relationships in the process.

FOUR: Practice 'random acts of networking'

HIMSS is a massive event and most people attend with people they know - whether it's their manager, their co-workers or their team. Some never bother to break out of that familiar circle. Regardless of your affiliations, take time to network with others - people you don't know well or betteryet, don't know at all. There are plenty of opportunities to strike up a casual conversation with people you don't know. If you're somewhat of an introvert (as many IT people seem to be), this can sound daunting. However, here's a tip that makes networking much easier. Select a 'go to' question as an opener. If you pick just one, you'll become comfortable with it and you will feel less awkward everytime you use it. For example, "What brought you to HIMSS this year?" or "Have you attended other HIMSS conferences?" or "What's the most useful thing you've learned so far?" or "So, where do you work and what do you do there?" All of these are safe openers and if someone is inclined to talk, this will open the door to what might turn out to be an awesome new friend, colleague or connection. Give it a try.

So, here's the warm up....why are YOU attending HIMSS16? What do you hope to learn? Drop a comment and let me know.

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