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Pro Tips for Surviving a Veterinary Conference

For many of us, early spring brings veterinary conferences to our schedules. Record attendance at NAVC 2016 proves that these events continue to provide valuable educational and networking opportunities, and there’s no doubt that the upcoming NAVC2017,  WVC, and AAHA Nashville 2017 will do the same.

These events have definitely changed over the years. We have been attending conferences for well over 20 years, usually as a vendor or speaker, and can say with some degree of confidence that, at this point, we’ve probably seen it all.

We’ve watched as you all enter the exhibit hall the first day, wide-eyed and full of energy. We’ve seen how, as day 2 rolls around, the pace and energy begin to slow; and how, by day 3, you are barely dragging along… And heavens, by day 4! You have that glassy-eyed look about you that only comes from too much of a good thing.

Whether you are a first-timer to a veterinary conference or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to have a little insight when it comes to what lies ahead. With that in mind, I would like to offer a bit of my experience when it comes to surviving a veterinary conference.

Plan Ahead!

If you’re going to get the most out of your veterinary conference experience, you’ll need to do your homework. Sure, you may think you can wing it with the schedule you’ve downloaded on your smartphone, but let’s be realistic here… you need to plan ahead.

  • Before you go, access the list of all the classes and decide which ones will benefit you and your staff. This will help you plan your day and your overall educational agenda.
  • If there is more than one of you attending from your practice, divide and conquer your list, but be sure to take (good) notes so you can share what you’ve learned with the others (especially those not in attendance).
  • Download the map of all the vendors you would like to see and plan your route. This is akin to urban hiking, don’t go out unprepared!
  • Make a note of which vendors you are really interested in seeing and make notes about what it is, specifically, you would like to talk about. This will help you to keep on track, despite the dreaded “conference brain”.
  • Make sure you pack the most comfortable shoes you own. Seriously. Every aching bone in your body will be thanking you for wearing good shoes at the end of the event.

On-Location Tips for Surviving a Veterinary Conference

  • Start the day with a good breakfast, it may be the last nutritious meal you see until the next morning!
  • Stay hydrated. Take a water bottle or nab one when you get there and keep it filled.
  • Don’t forget your phone! Not only will you have your maps, plans, and all-important questions at your fingertips, but it will also help you to stay in touch with social media. You may even want to invest in a pocket charger as well.
  • Attend your classes, but be sure to find the experts you’d like to speak with on the floor, as well. Both opportunities will offer invaluable insights.
  • Get there early and get there fast for that ever-elusive box to wheel all your goodies around in.
  • Don’t forget to grab good bags! Not the weak ones that tear out… Get the sturdy ones, you will need them.
  • Rush to the right booths early on to score the best take-home prizes!

There’s No Place Like Home…

When it’s all said and done, there really is no place like home. We strongly recommend taking an extra day before heading back to work. Coming off a conference can be a bit like jet lag, and taking a much-needed day to decompress can make all the difference.

Once you’re back at work, however, you’ll want to put all you learned to good use.

  • Set a time to share what you learned with your entire staff. Be sure to consider their questions and feedback.
  • Don’t change everything at once! Ease into new ideas, products, and decisions one at a time.
  • Don’t lose steam. There can be a lot of gung-ho when you get back that will be prone to fizzling out. Set a schedule for implementation and stick to it until you’ve checked everything off your list.

So there you have it! Beyond Indigo’s pro tips for surviving a veterinary conference. We hope to see you during the upcoming veterinary conference season, and look forward to your questions!

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