Connecting with other professionals, learning about dental techniques and exploring advanced equipment options are all valuable opportunities. You want to grow as a professional, and conferences are a great way to support your development.
Whether you’ve attended an event before or you’re planning your first trip, you want to get the most out of your dental conference. In the excitement of the moment, you may be surprised how quickly a conference comes and goes. Understanding how to prepare for a dental convention can help you maximize your time and energy for an optimal conference experience.
Convention Planning for Dentists
Timing the logistics of your dental trade show preparation can help you save money before you even reach the door. Check out these tips to stretch and allocate your conference budget:
1. Register Early
If you know you’ll be attending a conference several months in advance, watch for early registration periods. Many conventions offer a discount for individuals who sign up early, which can save your practice money. Planning ahead also allows you to block out time away from the office. You can make sure scheduling concerns are worked out and enjoy your time without worry.
2. Plan Your Travel & Accommodations
Your travel and accommodation needs will vary based on the length of the conference and how far away it is. If attending a nearby convention, you may be able to drive to the location. Consider carpooling with other team members or local professionals to simplify parking and cut down any costs.
For larger conferences, you may need to travel further and line up overnight accommodations. Weigh the convenience and costs for driving or flying, and plan your travels accordingly.
To find nearby hotels, check the conference website or search online. Conference coordinators will often reserve hotel blocks for attendees, and you may get a better price when you book one of these rooms. Compare rates at several nearby hotels to make sure you’re getting a good price.
3. Decide Who Will Attend the Conference
Who you take to the conference will depend on a few factors:
- Cost: For each conference attendee, you will need to consider the cost of registration, traveling and accommodations. Your budget for conference expenses may help determine how many individuals you want to send to the event.
- Relevance: The type of information and sessions available at a conference may be relevant to some personnel and not to others. Be sure to look at the event itinerary to get a sense of who may benefit from the material.
- Logistics: Think about whether it would make sense to send several employees or to have a few employees attend and have an informational presentation when they return.
Once you have an idea of what your group size will be, you can begin more detailed dental conference preparation.
How to Prepare for a Dental Conference
In-depth planning before your conference can help make your experience smooth and successful. Take a look at these tips for preparing for a dental convention, and see how you can hit the ground running on day one:
1. Identify Your Goals for the Trip
Before you attend a convention, think about what you want to get out of the experience. Perhaps you’re looking to find and purchase new equipment or fulfill CE requirements. You may also want to learn more about advancements in the industry and new techniques. Whatever your goals, be sure to write them down and share them with the rest of your team.
Once you’ve established goals, outline the steps or information you’ll need to achieve them. In addition, make a list of any questions you want to have answered in sessions or with vendors. You can gather all of this information into one convenient place, like a notebook or laptop. When you take notes at the event, all of your important goals will be right there to guide you.
2. Plan What Vendors You Want to See
Depending on the size of the conference, it may be impossible to check out every table. Most event websites list and provide information on the vendors who are attending, so you can narrow down the list of exhibits you want to visit. Some conferences may include planning tools on their website as well, so you can map out your game plan ahead of time.
Even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything, talking to vendors can be valuable. You may learn more about new opportunities your practice could implement in the future — like dental cassettes or lasers. You may also learn about best practices and the ways the dental industry is changing. At a minimum, you can build a relationship with vendors and exchange knowledge.
3. Decide What Instruments or Equipment You Need
Dental trade shows can be an excellent place to purchase larger equipment. As part of your dental convention preparation, think about any equipment you may want to update or replace. Record information about your current equipment, so you can make quick comparisons while browsing the trade floor.
If you know you want to purchase specific equipment, jot down a few questions to ask. You can pre-schedule appointments with sales reps to make sure you get your questions answered and learn more about your potential investment. This small bit of planning and research can help you make an informed and worthwhile decision.
4. Print Parking and Event Maps
The larger the conference you’re attending, the more complicated parking may be. Depending on the conference center location, you may also have to walk a moderate distance from the parking to the event center. Look for parking and event maps before the conference, so you have an idea where you’ll be headed and what kind of fees you’ll have to pay.
Many event facilities are sprawling buildings, so be sure to print a map. You can circle and highlight pertinent areas to help you navigate quickly during the day. If your conference has an event app, you may also be able to access a map virtually and navigate in real time.
5. Plan a Conference Itinerary
Dental conventions are bustling with presentations, panels and exhibition hours. Examine the conference schedule and strategize what you will attend and when to make the most of these events. To fill out your schedule, start by identifying one-time panels or lectures you want to attend. You can fill in the rest of your itinerary with recurring events or time to peruse the trade show floor.
Don’t forget to factor in time to eat, network and socialize. You’ll want to give yourself enough time to relax and enjoy the company of other professionals in addition to all of the educational opportunities.
6. Pack Conference Essentials
As you fill your suitcase, don’t forget these items that can make your life easier at the conference:
- Portable phone charger: During a long conference, you may drain your phone battery using the event app or communicating with the rest of your team. Packing a portable charger and the appropriate charging cable can keep your phone running when in high demand.
- Business cards: Whether you’re networking or just need to exchange contact information with a vendor, business cards are a must. You can promote your business easily, and you won’t have to worry about the cards taking up too much space in your bag.
- Snacks and water: Each conference may have different policies for snacks. If your conference doesn’t provide food, you may want to pack a snack and water bottle. If you’re not allowed to bring your own food, you may need cash to purchase concessions. Check the event website to make sure you’re prepared to cover your food and hydration needs.
Dental Trade Show Survival Guide: How to Get the Most out of a Dental Trade Show
Once you’ve made it to the event, you’ll be whisked into the exciting yet chaotic nature of a conference. Here’s our dental conference survival guide to help you accomplish your goals and enjoy yourself while doing so.
1. Dress Comfortably and Professionally
You and your team are representing your practice at a conference. When you network and meet new people, you want to put your best foot forward with a professional appearance. Keep in mind, however, that conferences involve long days and a decent amount of walking.
To strike the proper balance, you may want to select comfortable, low-heeled shoes that offer adequate support. You may also want to dress in layers, so you can adjust according to the convention center temperature.
2. Browse the Whole Floor Before Purchasing
If you plan to purchase equipment at a trade show, you likely have specific vendors in mind. It can be valuable to check out the entire trade floor before making a final decision. Other vendors could provide products or deals that rival what your target vendors offer. If this is the case, take the time to talk to other vendors and add them to your list for consideration.
After you’ve scouted the floor, you may decide you’d like to take more time to make a decision. Either way, it’s helpful to take in the full scope to ensure there aren’t better deals, products or sales available.
3. Discuss With Colleagues Before Purchasing Major Equipment
Your colleagues and team members should play a role in major purchases that affect their workflow and practice finances. Before committing to a piece of equipment at a trade show, make sure you take time to discuss the purchase with other practice members.
If your colleagues are not attending the event with you, take a moment to make a call and explain what you’ve learned. If both you and your colleagues are at the event, you can discuss your thoughts over a meal or at the end of the day.
4. Use Social Media to Monitor Deals
If you’re considering equipment from a specific vendor, be sure to follow them on social media. Many vendors post event-specific sales and deals throughout the day that could save you money. To stay up-to-date with alerts, turn on post notifications for the vendors.
Vendors may also promote discounts through a conference’s event app. Look out for the vendors you’re interested in, and you may snag a deal on the equipment you want to purchase.
5. Review Sessions With Your Team
Discussing important presentations with your team and other dental professionals can help you retain and contextualize the information you learn. Other dental professionals synthesize information with their practice and experience in mind. Gathering and talking about a session can help you figure out ways to apply the information and make it work for your practice.
6. Keep Your Patients in Mind
Whether you’re purchasing equipment or listening to sessions, keep your patient demographic in mind. You know your patients best, and you understand what might serve them well. Consider each presentation in light of what makes sense for your practice. Having this frame of mind can help you translate information from the conference into practical, helpful launch points from which to move forward.
7. Network With Representatives and Other Professionals
Gathering with other dental professionals is exciting and rewarding. Conventions put you in a room full of people who think like you and encounter similar situations to you. Take advantage of this opportunity to have conversations with peers and sales reps and learn from them.
Building relationships with other professionals can be fun — so don’t stress about selling yourself as a business. Promote your hard work, share your knowledge and enjoy the company of like-minded friends while you are able.
8. Take Notes
One of the most essential dental conference tips for success is taking notes. The wealth of knowledge at conventions is too much to process at once, and taking notes can help you remember what matters most. Focus your note-taking on the sessions and topics that align with your goals. If you plan to share what you’ve learned with team members when you get back, detailed notes can help you gather your thoughts.
At the end of each conference day, take a moment to review your notes. Highlight areas you view as the most important, and write down anything else you want to remember. You can also take this time to review your conference goals and assess your progress.
How to Get the Most out of a Dental Convention After the Event Ends
The dental convention tips don’t end when you return home. There are a few final steps to make sure you wrap up your experience successfully.
1. Follow up With Your Connections
According to the Harvard Business Review, there are three types of connections you might make at a conference:
- Miscellaneous interesting people: These are individuals with whom you don’t have a specific reason for connecting, but you’d like to keep in touch with them. An appropriate follow-up for someone in this category may be connecting with them on LinkedIn or other social media.
- People with whom you have a reason to follow up: This could include an individual you want to meet with or a vendor you want to purchase from. Be sure to email or call these people promptly and make plans as you had discussed.
- People you want to build a relationship with: There are some people you simply want to connect with. You may want to contact these individuals to set up regular meetings or invite them to attend other professional events with you. If you read an interesting industry article, you can pass it along to this group to help nurture your relationship and keep in touch.
2. Confirm Any Orders
If you ordered any equipment or instruments at the convention, ensure everything is settled for your order. Check for confirmation messages, contact sales representatives and ask questions as needed to make sure your order arrives without an issue.
3. Take Stock of the Experience
When you return to your practice or travel home with your team, review your experience with the conference and ask yourself the following questions:
- What did you like and dislike about the experience?
- Did you accomplish your goals?
- What were your favorite parts of the event?
- What questions do you still have?
- What next steps do you need to take?
Based on your answers to these questions, consider what you would do differently for future conferences. Each conference is an opportunity to grow and improve as an attendee, which can benefit your overall experience and learning.
Look for ProDentUSA at Your Next Dental Convention
While you’re researching vendors and browsing the trade floor at your next conference, look for ProDentUSA. As a high-quality dental instrument manufacturer, we pride ourselves on making stainless steel instruments that last. Visit our exhibit to learn how our factory to door initiative allows us to offer lower prices and higher quality than our competitors.
Our instruments are backed by the ProDent Promise: designed to last, guaranteed to satisfy. Whether you’re looking for instrument sets or instruments for a specific purpose, we have high-quality products to match. To learn more about how our products can benefit your practice, contact us today.