By Clare Roche, AcademyHealth

Conference networking tends to carry a stereotypical connotation: rushed attendees swarming around coffee carts attempting to make small talk before scurrying off to the next breakout room. In fact, many attendees forego the scheduled networking time entirely, opting to catch up on email or meander the exhibit halls instead. Even with scheduling esteemed plenary and session speakers, conference organizers strategically allocate time for networking breaks for the attendee’s benefit. These breaks are intended to foster new relationships as well as capitalize – face-to-face – on existing ones.

Prior to any networking function, it is important to remember a few simple tips and tricks that can elevate your conference networking-game.

  1. Have a numerical goal of new people or organizations you’d like to connect with during the conference. Remember that these connections do not always have to happen organically within the hours of the conference. Try to pre-schedule a few meetings to relieve some of the pressure. And, quality is better than quantity, so be realistic with this goal (e.g. making a meaningful connection with 3 people per day).
  2. Pack your business cards … and don’t be afraid to use them! Have a stack readily available in all of your meeting materials. In addition to exchanging information during scheduled meetings, you never know who you may meet in a session or the exhibit hall.
  3. Specifically, at this year’s Annual Research Meeting (ARM), we’re providing our loyal members with distinguished member ribbons. Stop by the AcademyHealth booth to pick up yours and begin connecting with your association peers.

The ARM is already breaking registration records, which means the pool of participants accessible to network within Boston is not only diverse, but also abundant. Currently, there are scheduled thirty-minute breaks on Sunday, June 26 and Monday, June 27 allotted for networking. This year we’re encouraging you to make an in person connection rather than an electronic one. Trust us, they last longer.

To assist you with partaking in our “out of the box” idea of networking breaks, we recommend you literally get out of the box (aka Hynes Convention Center). Below you’ll find a list of nearby places you can visit with a colleague during your thirty minutes, and still make it back in time for the next session.

338 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115

This café is located one block from the convention center. It’s so close you’d even have time to grab a quick bite.

  • Charles River Basin

Head North on Gloucester St. toward Back St. until you see the River Basin

Looking to stretch your legs? Take your meeting to go as you make your way to the water. This walk is ten minutes each way, allowing you some time to take in Boston’s beauty.

49 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

Bond with your mentor over your sweet tooth(s)! Named one of the best 101 cupcakes in America by The Daily Meal, you won’t leave disappointed.

Although the list of nearby options is endless, we encourage you to take that first step and choose just one. A change of scenery, good cup of coffee, or sweet treat can easily minimize the “work” aspect of networking, leaving you with a renewed outlook on a previously glanced over agenda item.

We’d love to hear your networking success stories from previous AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting’s. In addition, if you have plans for Boston 2016, let us know by commenting below!

Clare Roche is the Student Membership and Chapter Coordinator at AcademyHealth where she manages all student chapters and student members, as well as coordinates the scholarships and awards programs. She encourages you to get involved with AcademyHealth through the formation of student chapters which enhance the learning and professional development experience for students in health services research and health policy. Clare graduated from the George Washington University as a double major in Communication and Business. Contact her at [email protected].