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Every year, Mike Corbett and his team put on the Health Plus Care conference in London as one of the most anticipated care sector events in the UK. As veterans of exhibiting at the event, we have gathered a couple of tips to make sure you get the most out of going.
Every summer more than 6,000 people from the care sector gather for the conference that includes the Residential and Homecare Show. So, if you ever want to take the temperature of the care sector, this is the place to be. Usually buzzing with inspiration, knowledge-sharing, and lots of informal coffee chats.
Before going to the conference, you should determine your goals. Is it to catch up with former colleagues? Expanding your network? Attending a particularly interesting talk? Or maybe check out the exhibitors? (we hope…) Either way, your approach to the conference will differ depending on the outcome you’d like to get.
It could also be that you don’t have a fixed pre-determined attendance goal in mind. Either way, we highly recommend checking out the list of speakers before going. Health Plus Care is such a big conference that you can’t just wing it when you get there. At least not if you want to make the most of the event.
You can make the conference much easier to attend if you do a little bit of work before arriving at the venue. After researching the speakers and narrowing down the options you prefer, you can start to “pre-introduce” yourself. This is especially useful if you are looking to network with new people and feel somewhat introverted doing so.
A way to pre-introduce yourself could be through social media. If you use the Health Plus Care hashtag on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’ll be sure to find like-minded people to connect with before the show. A suggestion could be to post something like: “I’m going to Health + Care. Does anyone have any must-see recommendations?”
We know networking isn’t everyone’s favourite cup of tea, but it’s important, nonetheless. You’re not just networking because you should – you’re networking because it’s good for you. Despite that, it’s not always easy to make contacts at a conference. Usually, when you look up networking advice at conferences, they say to introduce you X amount of people. A daunting task if you’re an introvert. How are you “just” going to do that? Here are some of our top tips for networking at the conference:
This is the perfect way to break the ice and schedule some coffee chats, so you don’t have the pressure of doing it in the moment. Connecting before-hand will also make it easier for you to schedule your entire day, so you won’t have too much idle time or miss anything important.
We don’t mean that you should be on your phone and not pay attention to the entire session. However, we have found that a great way to get in contact with new people at a conference is to reflect on the takeaways of the session in real-time. For instance, tweeting a particularly interesting quote and tagging the speaker.
Engaging in the conversation online usually, gets the talk going and can serve as a way to engage with new people with similar interests to you.
A common mistake is when networking is seeing it as something that can only be done during the designated breakout sessions. The problem with this is that you more than likely have a ton of stuff to do during the breakout sessions besides actually networking. Maybe you have to catch up on other work-related stuff, check out the exhibitors etc.
We have found that a great place to strike up a conversation is when you are sitting in the audience and waiting for a keynote to begin. Usually, most people arrive early so it is an opportune time to casually strike up a conversation. Great conversation starters could be “Is this your first time attending Health plus Care conference?” or “Who else are you planning on listening to?”. Essentially, most people are very open to talking about the conference once they are seated and just waiting for the session to start.
Another added benefit of striking up a conversation in the short time before the speaker starts is that there’s a timer on the conversation. This means no time for awkward silence, but still, just enough time to introduce yourself and make an acquaintance.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the food and tea stands tend to be pretty busy during the conference. If you manage to grab a table by that place, chances are people will strike up a conversation with you as a way to share the table with you.
In case you are not feeling particularly outgoing, this trick is pretty handy because you don’t have to initiate the conversation yourself. Plus, you get to have food and coffee!
It’s not free to go to the conference, so chances are that there’s an expectation that you come home with tangible takeaways. It could be a sourced list of potential suppliers or the takeaways from the keynote speakers. Either way, there’s an onus on you to share what you have learned with the rest of the team.
Our best pieces of advice to doing this is by jotting down your thoughts and takeaways during the day. Depending on how you prefer to document thoughts, we recommend bringing pen and paper, or using your phone, or even using a dictaphone if that’s what you prefer. The tool is not relevant as long as you manage to capture the main takeaways.
Besides sharing your findings from the conference both internally and externally, it’s also important to remember to follow up with contacts you have made from all your hard work networking. Whether that be through LinkedIn, e-mail, or a third medium, it’s so important to follow up with everyone you’ve talked to. Otherwise, all the hard work has been for nought.
Is there anything we have left out of this checklist? Tweet us at SekoiaUK and let us know!