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Massage Today
May, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 05

Can There Really Be Too Much of a Good Thing? Never!

By Angie Patrick

Convention and conference season is in full swing! So many incredible events are going on all over the country. There is such tremendous opportunity to learn new modalities, gain skills, brush up on techniques, learn about products and network with your colleagues that it's a bit hard to keep up.

When you go to an conference or convention, do you sometimes feel like you're drinking from a fire hose with all of the input you receive in a short time period?

I love "show season" because for me, it's an opportunity to meet new people, see dear old friends and learn as much as I can about what is new and exciting going on our industry. I look forward to finding out more regarding the things pertinent to the profession such as research, legislation, regulations and more. I will admit, when I leave a show or an event, I am energized and want to put everything I have learned into practice or use it all at once, but the magnitude of it all can cause a bit of mental paralysis, as I sometimes have no idea where to begin. Here are some tips on how you can organize the data you collect, the connections you make and the education you receive so it's not only useful, but easily referenced.

To begin, lets first talk about people. We are so fortunate to be a part of a health care industry that is people focused. My experience at an event is that of true face-to-face "community" networking. You gain opportunities to meet those you know from social media sites, blogs and online conferences. Additionally, you get to meet suppliers, educators, authors and vendors. Remembering names may be the gift of some rare souls, but for me it is not a gift that comes readily.

file cabinet - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark When I accept a business card from someone, I like to take a moment and write down a nugget of information about my interaction with them so when I get home and organize, the nugget will jog my memory and I will have a "face" with the name on the card. For example, if I met someone and I learned in the course of the conversation their hobby was poodle breeding, or perhaps we had a common acquaintance, or even if they had an awesome haircut, I will make this little note on the card to jog my memory when I am filing cards for reference later. You will be surprised how effective this quirky habit can be. Often, the nugget helps me recall far more than just the tidbit I wrote down, but much more of the conversation we shared and the information I learned from them.

I organize these cards in a file alphabetically until I have the time to put the information into a personal contact database. This need not be some expensive elaborate software. Mine is simply an excel spreadsheet. I have a column for notes where I put my nugget and suddenly I have a searchable and organized means to connect with those in my profession from which I can gain knowledge, share experiences, gain advice or kindle a friendship.

Next, let's talk about the trade show floor. This is where the paper and catalog gathering goes into full swing. I like to try to visit each booth, whether or not I may be interested in what they are offering right in this moment. I gather their literature and put it into my registration bag. Because time is valuable and there is only so much time available between classes, I make a point to visit those booths for which I have an immediate interest and spend time learning about the product or service. I try to establish a bit of a relationship with the company by better understanding what they offer and discerning how this may help me in my day to day business.

When you take the time to visit each vendor and gather reference data, you are building your reference library. When you get home, you will have a bag filled with information it would take you months to research. Take an hour, maybe two, and do yourself a favor. Create a ring binder and segment it into categories. Segment however you choose and in any way that helps you manage the data. As an example, mine is segmented into the following:

  • Education: CEU providers, publishers, magazines and anything else pertaining to further education.
  • Association: Information about all the associations, organizations, charities, groups, meet ups and chapters.
  • Insurance/Legal: Practice, home, life, health or short-term/long-term disability, and anything I collect on licensure changes or events, as well as pending legislation.
  • Software: New online registration office software. I gather data at every show I attend to compare them and know the differences.
  • Supply: Manufacturer information, product sales slicks, catalogs and data. I will want to "shop" when funds allow and I am ready to give that new product a try. I will need this information when it comes time to buy and I will know exactly where to go and who to call.
  • Equipment: This is likely the biggest segment, because there is nothing like a trade show to enable you to come face to face with equipment manufacturers and suppliers and compare them side by side. I gather all the data available, so whether I buy at the show or at a later date, I have all of this information available, complete with any notes I made on the literature to remind me of things I need to know.
  • Specialty: If it does not fit into the above, it goes here. Arts, photography, jewelry and music are the things I file in this segment.

After so many years attending trade shows, my segments are now their own binders. But this is what allows me to have a strong understanding of the market, its available resources and the people that make it work. Truly, in every sense of the word, we are a community. Whether you enjoy being right in the middle of the action or prefer to stay on the edges and watch, knowledge is power. You cannot remember everything you learn and absorb all the data you gather, but you can take this information and build a repository that will help you as you move along your professional career. You will find yourself referring to these lists and books more often than you ever thought you would.

When you need a new table, you have information at your fingertips, direct from the manufacturer and more in depth than what you find online. When you are looking for a new lubricant, you can compare the ingredients side by side and refer to the notes you made about grip, glide, scent and more. When you need CEU credits, insurance or look to join an association, you will have all the information just sitting there, waiting for you to help you chose what is right for you and you will be glad you have taken the time to take the experience of attending a conference, convention or trade show and building a library of your own to use long after the event has ended.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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