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How to make the most of a nursing conference

Attending nursing conferences is a powerful way to accumulate knowledge, expand your network and reinvigorate your career with inspiration, information and fellowship with other nurses.

There are many ways to assure you get the most out of a conference. Here are three strategies for taking the quality of your conference attendance to the next level:

1. Network authentically and skillfully

Networking is a true skill for the professional nurse; networking thoughtfully at a conference helps you create relationships that can serve your career in myriad ways.

You can’t meet everyone at a conference. Use your intuition and keen listening skills to meet the individuals to whom you feel most drawn. Go out of your way to connect with those people, exchange information, ask salient questions and create relationships. You will no doubt find your tribe.

During the conference, make dates to meet for coffee or a meal with members of your chosen group to learn and share more deeply.
Meanwhile, find one another on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Once you go home, follow up with an email or hand-written note, and continue to nurture those relationships for the long haul.

2. Meet the presenters, exhibitors

Most every presenter and exhibitor at a nursing conference is there because they want to connect with attendees. Don’t be shy; reach out to presenters, bend their ear, exchange contact information and follow them on whatever electronic platforms they use.

Some conferences attract major players and thought leaders in the national (or international) nursing community. Having face time with a big cheese in nursing is a real treat. Make the most of these opportunities, reach out and form a relationship.

3. Be present and accounted for

Some conference attendees might simply be cheeks in the seats, as the saying goes. This isn’t what it’s all about. Rather than just being physically present, try your best to also be emotionally and intellectually present.

Listen well, connect with other attendees, take notes and tune in deeply to presentations and exhibits as key methods for feeling part of what’s going on. After a presentation, chat with other attendees and share your impressions from what you’ve witnessed or experienced. Chat with speakers after their presentations and ask cogent questions that elicit the information you want to glean.

Being present at a conference means being awake, aware, approachable and a participatory community member.

Conferences can change you

When you give your all and dive deeply into a nursing conference, there’s so much to gain and nothing to lose. From new professional connections to astounding or moving information, you and your career can be changed by your experience. If you’re making the commitment to attend, make a deeper commitment to attend with an open mind, an open heart and the willingness to make the most of an enriching experience.

By | 2015-11-06T17:36:12-05:00 November 8th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

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