One of my daughter’s favorite books by Ally Carter has this quote regarding seeing an unknown person multiple times:
The first time, it’s a stranger.
Second time, it’s just a coincidence.
Third time, it’s a tail.
Well, I don’t know about other attendees, but my experience at PRIM&R’s 2015 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference had me repeatedly running into strangers. But, instead of getting paranoid as suggested by the quote above, I looked at it as an opportunity to connect with people who likely have the same interests as me! Perhaps they perform the same job functions and I’ve found a new person to benchmark with...Woo-Hoo! How many new contacts did you make at AER15?
The advantage of networking at a PRIM&R conference is meeting people who do what you do, have "been there and done that," and understand your language. It’s like spending time with family (the good side)—people who know you and understand you, even if just professionally.
And this group is like family. There are people I look forward to seeing each year at AER, who I greet with warm hugs and eager anticipation. These are the people I benchmark with and who I contact when I need a sounding board. I know and trust that I will get honest feedback from them, as they will from me. What I learn and get from my networking conversations is of equal importance to what I learn from the conference content.
These connections seem to happen more naturally over food, with the literal breaking of bread. I, for one, missed having breakfast in the conference space. I wonder how much opportunity for networking was missed by everyone fending for themselves before entering the conference space? That said, connections are still forged sans food too. I attended and appreciated the evening networking receptions, and learned of some very cool new technologies that I’d love to see in place at my institution. I also recognize that a much smaller conference population typically attends these events, with attendees having already reached their maximum RDA (recommended daily allowance) of learning.
So, whether you broke real bread or virtual, I hope you made some new connections. I hope some of those strangers have now become friends.
I hope to see you at the next "family reunion" in Anaheim in 2016! Let’s break some bread together...