5 Tips for Maximizing Your Time at SHSMD

5 Tips for Maximizing Your Time at SHSMD




Like any big conference, attending the Society of Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) Connections can be an overwhelming experience. Headed into its 20th year as an event, SHSMD Connections 2016 is taking place September 11 - 14 in Chicago. With an estimated 1,400+ healthcare marketing, public relations and communications, and strategic planning professionals on-site, 60 sessions to choose from, 8 targeted learning tracks, and more than 4 hours worth of keynote sessions, it’s easy to see how this could be an enriching experience, but it can also feel like you’re drinking from a firehose.

It can also be a tremendous opportunity to network with peers in your field and learn best practices that you can take back home and share with your team. Pulled from the SHSHD website, here’s an overview of the roles and responsibilities of those expected to be in attendance. 


A wide range of viewpoints in one conference is a valuable opportunity to meet with others in your same line of work as well as others who are further along in their careers. There will be numerous chances to grow professionally and even pass along some of your knowledge to others.

Maybe you’re attending for the first time or you’ve attended in the past and didn’t feel you made the best use of your time there. Either way, I’m here to help. Stratasan has been attending SHSMD for many years and I’ve been fortunate to lead sessions in the past and have one scheduled for this year as well. We’re presenting at a pre-conference workshop on Sunday, September 11! I’ll be co-presenting the session Building Physician Referrals with Analytics and Best Practice Sharing with Mitzi Kent and Dustie Maguire of LifePoint Health. We’re also at exhibit booth 107, so please come by and say hello.

As a big fan of SHSMD and long-time attendee, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are my five best tips for making the most out of your SHSMD experience.  

  1. If you take away only one thing from this blog post, let it be this: plan ahead. Study the conference agenda ahead of time, reviewing speakers, session titles, and session descriptions and plan ahead for which sessions you want to attend. This will prevent you from flaking out and missing sessions based on indecision. Additionally, you will be more likely to pick the sessions you feel will give you the most benefit for your time and applicability for your projects.
  2. Coordinate with your supervisor and co-workers back at the office so they know you will be offline while at the conference, allowing to you really focus and be present in all the sessions, luncheons, and networking opportunities. If you have to miss half a day of the conference due to project work for the office, that's half a day of learning wasted.  Promise to present your learnings to the team when you return home.  
  3. Study the Exhibit Hall ahead of time, keeping in mind the needs of your team back home and look for opportunities to make valuable connections. Keep in mind, you can learn a lot from exhibitors, so plan for which exhibitors you want to visit with and make sure you see those exhibitors during the Exhibit Hall hours. The rest of the exhibit time can be spent visiting without feeling like you’ve missed a big opportunity.  
  4. Take advantage of the great networking opportunities at your fingertips. Having a huge number of peers to network within one place is a rare occasion. Attendees are usually very gracious and will share experiences and advice when engaged in conversation. Take advantage of the networking sessions.
  5. SHSMD is in one of the greatest cities in the world this year, Chicago. Schedule some time before or after the conference to see the sites. A few of my favorites include Buckingham Fountain, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. And of course, don’t forget shopping on the Magnificent Mile!


The Takeaway

SHSMD Connections 2016 will no doubt be a lot of fun and a lot of learning!  You can learn more about your field, network with peers, and grow as a healthcare professional. But, without a little bit of planning and preparation, it can also be overwhelming and a series of missed opportunities. If you will be attending this year, take my urging to heart and plan ahead. All your planning will be time well-spent and will make your experience at the conference that much more valuable. With some advance planning, you can show up feeling relaxed and ready to make the most of your time. I hope to see you there! 

Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP of Healthcare Strategy for Stratasan

Attending SHSMD? Come meet our team! We’ll be at exhibit booth 107 and would love the chance to meet you.

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