Make the Most of Your Time at VAM

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Yesterday’s breakfast session on careers and networking was just for trainees, and that’s kind of a shame.

Many attendees, especially first-timers, can find networking at meetings a bit daunting. Here’s some advice on putting your best foot forward from two of the session speakers, Dr. Murray Shames and Dr. Trisha Roy:

• The annual meeting actually is a good place to practice approaching people. At opportunities such as the poster sessions and the Residency Fair, you have a chance to introduce yourself in a relaxed, interactive atmosphere.

• Plan ahead. Research sessions and speakers ahead of time and come to events ready with succinct questions. “When you ramble on without getting to the point,” Dr. Roy said, “you will fail to make a meaningful connection.”

• Practice that elevator speech – a short summary of who you are and why that person should care. Have a few key points about yourself that you can get across quickly.

• Look through the program book or the online program to find interesting sessions and speakers. Read their abstract, look them up on their institution’s website, LinkedIn, or the annual meeting app. You can find a complete list of attendees on the Who’s Coming SVS website.

• Dr. Shames also points out that if you have met a person before, don’t assume he or she will remember your name. “We meet a lot of people and we may not remember all of you,” he said. “Students need to go out of their way to re-introduce themselves each time they meet [someone].”

• Young surgeons are often “passive networkers,” said Dr. Roy. They might only speak to new people when they are formally introduced. In an effort to appear humble, they miss opportunities and may even seem disinterested and disengaged. It is important to step outside your comfort zone and be the one to actively initiate a conversation.

On the other side of the coin, some young physicians may be overconfident, Dr. Shames said, a trait that can come across as arrogant.

First impressions count, said Dr. Shames. “It’s a small community.” VC

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