How to Attend a Mega Meeting: Part 2
Read Part 1 here.
PART 2: WHEN YOU GET THERE
You’ve finally arrived for the Big Show! Hopefully you have planned beautifully, and it’s time to put that attack strategy to work.
Planning Step 5: TRANSPORT
This is mostly for people who can’t afford the DDW hotels or hotels close to the conference center. Use your traveling skills and remember that the time saved by using non-conference transportation (the lines are KILLER at the shuttle) may be worth the $2 train/bus ride. Also think about time wasted on the buses: if you are invited to networking meetings that overlap, and it would take you 30 min on the bus, suck it up and pay the $10-$15 bucks for a cab.
Planning Step 6: FOOD
I try to get my coffee and breakfast before I get down to the meeting. I pack several non-junky snacks to carry in my ‘mobile office’. The markup at the conference can be stiff, and the time to wade through the lines can decrease your poster-browsing time.
Planning Step 7: MAINTAIN PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
Look up your friends who may be giving sessions/posters. Give them a lovely surprise and go visit them so they don’t pace the two steps in front of the poster for 2 hours. Have fun at night catching up on your mutual lives and careers.
Planning Step 8: WHAT YOU MISS
This may not be important enough to you each year, but if you REALLY feel you missed some great stuff, then you can usually buy the videos of the sessions. It’s pricey, so weigh how much you really need it. Last year I decided that I needed it to prepare for my upcoming boards and to learn all the nutrition information I missed. I paid $600 onsite (the attendance discount) for a disc of all the educational sessions. Lesson learned—I haven’t used it once.
Everyone approaches these meetings differently, so plan it based on what you need to get out of it. If you need a broad overview of medical management, you may skip all the poster/session searching and attend the postgraduate courses. If you are later in your career, this will be “old hat” and you’ll probably spend more time socializing and moderating sessions as opposed to attending them.
One last note on the rising use of social networking at Mega Meetings: last year I “tweeted” during the entire session. It was a lot of fun, and I “met” several new people. It kept me awake and forced me to process the information quickly and correctly (no one wants to tweet something incorrectly). If you use twitter (or even if you don’t) you can follow the hashtag of the meeting (#DDW12) to see the tweets from various attendees. You’ll also see vendor announcements and spammers, but the humanity of all the Mega Minds attending the Mega Meeting may surprise you.
Finally, if you got through all my OCD-ish Type A Super Gunner suggestions, you might question whether anyone enjoys this stuff. Having fun is what life’s about–if you don’t enjoy your profession, then you shouldn’t be in it. I had a great time at DDW. At the end of the day, relax, have a drink, and ponder for a bit the amazing work that your colleagues are doing.