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How To Optimize Your Attendance At FNCE – Or Any Conference


How To Optimize Your Attendance At FNCE – Or Any Conference


FNCE is right around the corner and it is the HOTTEST annual nutrition conference of the year. While conferences are very exciting, they can be overwhelming, too. For example, you invest a lot of money to attend, then don’t follow up with connections you made or educational projects you learned about. This upcoming conference, it’s time to make the most of your attendance. NutritionJobs asked fellow dietitians their top tips to optimize your conference experience. Before reading the list, don’t get overwhelmed! Just pick 2-3 things to do at the conference and make it work for you.

Here are their suggestions:


“Put Away the Smartphone. You may be thinking: “But—I have so many emails waiting!” or “They told me to tweet about the event!” But here’s the thing: You’re at a conference to have in-person interaction, and you don’t want your electronic devices to be a barrier to making those connections. Give yourself a chance to strike up conversations with the other attendees around you. Talk now and tweet later!”

Chere Bork, MS RDN, Savor Your Life Today


“Review the program well ahead of time. I match the sessions to my own personal and professional interests and find a few at least that will be appropriate for my Portfolio. Then I make a list using my own calendar – on my iPad/iPhone as well as a piece of paper. I keep the list in my purse alongside business cards. Once there, if a session turns out to not be what I expected, I go to another session.”

Digna Cassens, MHA, RDN, Cassens Associates: Diversified Management Systems


“One of the things I have learned to do over the years is set a very clear intention of what I want to accomplish. Then, amidst all the hustle and bustle, that intention guides my path. The question I ask myself: “What’s one thing that will make the biggest difference in______ (my conference goal or intention).” That may be something like getting a promotion, becoming a better communicator on stage or one to one, landing a new job, building a relationship with 3 people in the marketing department of a food company, having an informational interview with __ # of people who work in a certain field, promote my upcoming webinar etc etc. Then develop a concrete action plan to make your intention happen. Also, don’t overlook the importance of networking and building new relationships. As you advance in your career, you will find that who you know is far more important than learning more technical information. Within 3-10 days post-conference reconnect with all new relationships via an E-mail, phone call, Linkedin or other appropriate social media connection.”

Jean Caton, MS, MBA, RDN, Business Woman’s Coach


“Plan your day with two types of activities – “must do” and “Plan B”. The “must do” are activities you are required to attend or are the highest priority for your time at FNCE. These activities could be: attending a session were new information is being presented that is directly related to your job, visiting a vendor at the EXPO to gather information about their new product or service, or attending the NE Networking Event Saturday night. “Plan B” are activities you would like to attend if there is time. Just remember you can’t do it all!”

Linda S. Eck Mills, MBA, RDN, LDN, FADA, Dynamic Communication Services


“Place your business cards in your name badge holder and don’t hesitate to tell others your elevator speech. By the time you return home, you will have planted many new seeds for your business!”

Denice Ferko-Adams, MPH, RDN, LDN, Health First Online


“a. Have business cards in hand, ready to give out and to approach others from RDs to Businesses at the Expo. b. Ask the person you approach what they do. c. See if you have anything you can offer them and get their card. d. Make a plan in your calendar to follow up with that person via, LinkedIn, email, or Facebook. e. If they are a hot lead get on, engage and follow all their social media platforms as well.”

Emma Fogt, MBA, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, Renew, Refuel, Get Moving … Repeat TM


“Plan ahead. Dietitians go to meetings for education, but entrepreneurs go to meetings to meet people! Determine ahead who you want to meet and connect ahead of time. Pick out the people you want to just meet, and those you’d like to sit down for coffee or something. Set up at least 3 key objectives for the meeting, and while there, keep them foremost in your mind. And, above ALL else, go with the intention of having FUN!”

Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RDN, BCC, MEG Enterprises, Inc.


“Since I am normally reserved and tend not to want to mingle with people, I have devised a game when I attend conferences or meetings. My goal is to obtain at least 5 business cards from the participants for each day of the conference or meeting. After each interaction, I write a few comments on the business cards such as the topic of our conversation and where we met. Of course, I have my business cards handy also to exchange. I have made many wonderful contacts this way.”

Mary Lane-Carlson, EdD, MPH, RDN, CDE, Nutrition Health Educator


“I print out my hour to hour schedule in advance, down to which sessions I will attend, which special events I’d like to visit, and even which booths I’m interested in. I pick out the best time to visit the exhibits—perhaps when I’m not so interested in sessions—and avoid spending too much time at the booths that don’t interest me. I take notes of what I want to follow up on when I get back home. I’ve started taking my iPad around and use the “Pages” function to take notes at sessions and meetings. Don’t forget comfy shoes for walking the exhibits and getting back to your hotel. And take time to explore the conference city and taste some local food!”

Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian


“I review sessions beforehand, download handouts, and decide what I really want to attend, and I take notes on my laptop during sessions. I also have a “second option” regarding sessions. When attending sessions, I like to introduce myself to those I’m seated with or around. Start the conversations going even if others around you aren’t. You never know who you’ll meet. If you’re shy, start with “Where are you from” – it’s an easy conversation starter. Wear your most comfortable shoes.”

Jan Patenaude, RDN, CLT, Director of Medical Nutrition and LEAP Mentor


“My advice is to have a plan and goals you want to accomplish during the event. Study the session guide and know what sessions and events you will need to attend to achieve your goals. Know who you would like to meet, and what events you would most likely find those individuals. And have fun!”

Sonja Stetzler, MA, RDN, Effective Connecting


Looking for more ways to network while at FNCE? Make sure to check out past articles:

Network Yourself to the Top & Make New Connections at FNCE: Part I

Network Yourself to the Top & Make New Connections at FNCE: Part II

Tips to Maintaining Relationships After the Networking Event


See you at FNCE!

Sarah Koszyk is founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog focusing on recipes, family health tips, and videos with kids cooking in the kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach specializing in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.

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