“I really do try and make sure that I understand the background of the person I’m meeting with,” said Dr. Ishman. “It’s not hard to spend five minutes to find out where they’ve trained, what they specialize in, what kind of practice they have, or what their interests are, whether that’s within the Academy or whether in their local practice setting.”
Explore This IssueFebruary 2018
She added, “Walking into a room with that level of preparation can be evident and also conveys a sense of seriousness and interest in the person or group (or issue) that you’re meeting with,” she said. “And those individuals are likely to be more engaged, and they are the ones I’m excited about following up with afterwards, especially for those in training and early practice, from a mentoring perspective as well.”
Once early-career physicians or residents arrive at a meeting, Dr. Setzen said that one key to effective networking is being ready with an elevator speech that respects how busy the person being approached is. “At a meeting, because time is so limited, having a goal in mind is important,” he said. “Introduce yourself with, ‘I’m Dr. XYZ. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I know your time is limited. I’m very interested in becoming more involved in education, research, committee structure, Board of Governors, etc. How can you help me do that? Here’s my card. Can I follow up with you after the meeting?’”
Physicians who attend a meeting expecting that every encounter will result in a lengthy exposition might be disappointed. A meeting of thousands of like-minded professionals is a starting point for networking, camaraderie, and education, not an endpoint, Dr. Setzen added.
Any specialty’s annual meeting is a highlight of the year, but Dr. Ishman suggests taking advantage of smaller meetings as well. “I am happy to meet with young faculty or with residents at meetings whom I’ve never met before if they make the effort to contact me ahead of time, tell me what they hope to get out of it, and see if they can get a few minutes of my time,” she added. “I did that when I was a resident, fellow, and as a young attending. I said, ‘Hey, you’re a leader in something I’m interested in doing. Can you spend 15 minutes with me at the annual meeting and have a cup of coffee?’” She said those were invaluable conversations for her in terms of helping her frame her career and decide where she wanted to go, both within the Academy and academically.