Make the Most of SHSMD 2021: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Time

Make the Most of SHSMD 2021: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Time

By Lee Ann Lambdin

The Society of Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) annual conference is the biggest healthcare strategy conference nationwide. With the goal of changing and leading the future, it’s a must-attend event for healthcare marketing, communications, business development, and strategic planning professionals. Headed into its 25th year, SHSMD Connections 2021 is taking place in person on September 19-21 in San Antonio, TX, and virtually on October 20-21. 

SHSMD Connections is primarily focused on education and it provides many opportunities to learn best practices you can take home and share with your team. I’d like to personally invite you to the session I’ll be leading titled “Your Budget Has Been Slashed! Now What?” It’s taking place on Tuesday from 11-11:50 am. I hope to see you there!

This year, the conference theme is “It’s a New Future: Change it and Lead it,” based on how much has changed and will continue to change for those of us who work in the healthcare industry. With so many healthcare marketing, public relations and communications, and strategic planning professionals expected to be on-site, hours of educational sessions, and more than three hours with keynote speakers, this conference can easily be an enriching experience. However, it can also feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose.

The keynote sessions are always great, but this year I’m particularly excited to hear Derreck Kayongo, Entrepreneur, Global Soap Project Founder, CNN Hero, and Former CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights lead the opening talk. Our team was so looking forward to this event, that we decided to sponsor it, and will be offering free margaritas at our booth afterward. (Come say hello at booth #117!)

SHSMD is a tremendous opportunity to build professional relationships and network with peers in your field. Pulled from their sponsor brochure, below you will find an overview of the roles and responsibilities of those who attended SHSMD in 2019. This provides a good point of reference for who can be expected to attend in 2021.

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A wide range of viewpoints in one conference means there will be numerous valuable opportunities to meet with others in your same line of work, as well as others who are further along in their careers or those who may need mentors. There will be many chances to grow professionally and even pass along some of your knowledge to others. It’s also a great opportunity to build relationships with your team and make new friends. 

Stratasan has been attending SHSMD since 2011, and over the years our involvement in the conference has grown. We’ve also held a session speaking position for five years, and will be doing so again this year, as I mentioned earlier. 

As big fans of SHSMD and long-time attendees, we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are five tips for how to make the most 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 missing sessions based on indecision. Additionally, you’ll 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 you to 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 work for the office, that's half a day of learning wasted. Promise to present what you learn 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 them during the Exhibit Hall hours. The rest of the exhibit time can be spent networking 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 with in 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 a great city this yearSan Antonio, TX. Schedule some time before or after the conference to see the sites and consider some of our suggestions below for the best restaurants, sights, and unique experiences. One of our employees used to live in San Antonio and visits often, and another lives there now! Both have recommendations for you:

    - Casa Rio: This is the first restaurant on the riverwalk and it is very good. It’s so nice to sit outside by the river and watch the birds and people!
    - The Historic Pearl: Pearl has a rich history dating back to 1883. Originally founded as a brewery, in 2001 it was converted to a mixed-use development that has wonderful restaurants, shopping, and a great hotel, Emma. My husband’s favorite restaurant at the Pearl is “Cured,” which offers hand-crafted cured foods. 
    - LaFonda on Main: This is a delightful Mexican restaurant in the Midtown area; listed as one of the best restaurants in San Antonio. I eat there almost every time I’m in town. They have a great courtyard for outdoor dining.
    - Taco Cabana: OK, don’t hate me! I have such sentimental memories of eating at Taco Cabana when I lived in San Antonio. Yes, it is fast food, but it is (was) delicious. I admit I don’t eat there for lunch or dinner when I’m in town, but I have been known to get a bean and cheese taco for breakfast.
    - San Antonio’s Missions: We’ve all heard of The Alamo, but it’s only one of five Missions built in San Antonio along the Mission Trail. All but the Alamo are free to visit, and Mission Concepción offers Catholic Mass services on Sundays, with a Mariachi accompaniment for the noon Mass. 
    - San Antonio Botanical Garden: The San Antonio Botanical Garden serves as a 38-acre living museum of plants, tranquil escape, living classroom, research, and conservation facility. It’s an entertainment venue where art and cultural experiences come to life.
    - Historic Market Square: Shops, restaurants, and vibrant surroundings - all at Market Square. A three-block outdoor plaza lined with shops and restaurants in downtown San Antonio, Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States. In September, they’ll have their best Dios del Muerte goods available. I love this market! It’s also good for early Christmas shopping. 

The Takeaway

SHSMD Connections 2021 will no doubt be a lot of fun and will open the door for a lot of learning, too! You can gain new insights 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. 

If you’ll be attending this year, take my urging to heart and plan ahead. 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!

P.S. - Interested in some good reading to occupy your travel time to SHSMD? Check out this white paper: 6 Ways to Create More Effective Presentations

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

Attending SHSMD? Come meet our team! We’ll be at exhibit booth #117 and would love the chance to meet you. 


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