After the booths are all packed up and the keynotes have all been given you'll find yourself checking out of the hotel and heading to the airport and the HIMSS experience will be over.
Continue the HIMSS Experience
However, there are ways to continue the networking and learning that takes place on the HIMSS show floor after the conference has concluded. Even if you didn't get to go to HIMSS in person the following information will give you to the tools you need to continue the HIMSS experience online.
Perform a Social Media Audit
How long have you had your facebook and twitter accounts? Since college? A few years? Chances are that no matter how long you have had your social media accounts that you probably made a social media faux pas at some point. While you should already remember that if you write it online you might as well write it in stone, you can still clean up your profiles and reduce the risk of damage that can be done to you professionally.
Prior to even going to HIMSS you need to perform a social media audit and clean up all your profiles. This is a great time to purge content that shouldn't be there. If you plan on using social networking tools to build relationships at HIMSS you need to make sure your profiles aren't an embarrassment.
Clean Up Your Profiles
Cull your social media profiles for outdated information, embarrassing posts or unsightly photos. Update your bio, photo, and links as needed. Get professional photos taken if none of your personal ones are suitable. Even though the HIMSS conference is over a month away, the social aspect of the experience is already in full force. Linkedin and Twitter are a little easier than something like Facebook. You'll want to check through your bio's and images to make sure they are correct, up to date, and free from grammatical and spelling errors.
Check Your Privacy Settings
Different social media and social collaboration tools have different purposes. For example, Facebook should be used primarily to connect with people you know personally and you often share your most personal information in that space. It's where you share pictures of your children, vacations, and so on. You tend to "let loose" a little more on Facebook. However, most people don't realize that the default settings on Facebook leave this information discoverable to practically anyone. Review Facebook's privacy settings and make sure you are comfortable with your level of sharing on the platform. Other platforms like Twitter and Linkedin have privacy settings as well, but most don't tend to share personal information on these platforms.
Engage With HIMSS Participants on Social Media
If you aren't already active on Next Wave Connect, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, now would be a good time to start. Many of the people you want to meet are using social media and social collaboration tools to connect with new and old professional contacts. Almost all of the social networking sites are easy to use and all are being leveraged by conference organizers, sponsors/exhibitors, and conference attendees to connect, learn and share information. To ensure that your team’s social media strategy is up to speed, check out our 5 HIMSS Conference Social Collaboration Tips blog.
Find a Place for Professional Healthcare Collaboration
One of the biggest issues with most social media and collaboration platforms is that they lack the professional component. Most sites turn into spam farms and link drop off and become internet ghost towns. It's difficult to find real live people to collaborate with because the content isn't moderated and every link click is a gamble. Next Wave Connect provides facilitated discussion and professional social collaboration communities for healthcare professionals. If you haven't joined yet, the March to HIMSS community is a great reason to.
Network During and Collaborate After
One of the biggest values of attending a conference in person is the opportunity to meet other professionals who are tackling or have tackled the same issues that your organization is facing. Before you head to HIMSS, you and your team should look at the lists of attendees and sponsors/exhibitors. Use social media to find out who else is attending. Do a little research on Next Wave Connect (in addition to searching by name and topic, join the March to HIMSS community set up for the conference attendees).
Make sure everyone leaves time in their session schedules to set short appointments when they find people who are on your organization’s target list. This will allow your team to be thoughtful in creating new professional relationships that will help you and your organization move forward. Don’t pass up the opportunity to learn from industry pros — who, by the way, also want to network and meet people just like you! Then, after the conference is over, continue the conversations you and your team are having inside Next Wave Connect. Either join an existing community or maybe even start you own private collaboration to dive into the nitty-gritty of the conversations you all had at HIMSS.
Getting the Most Out of HIMSS
The HIMSS conference may seem overwhelming at first, but with planning and preparation it’s completely possible to leave the conference with a feeling of accomplishment. The biggest takeaway from HIMSS might not even occur on the conference floor. The HIMSS experience is one that every healthcare IT professional should have at least once in their life and anything worth doing is worth doing right. Don't miss any opportunities to build relationships and opportunities to collaborate before, during, and after HIMSS.
Start collaborating now in the March to HIMSS community.