The countdown to HISS17 continues. As I wrote last week, the best way to think about it is in three ways – education, vendors, and networking. This post is the second in a three-part series – focusing on vendors.
If you already registered, you have been inundated with vendor emails and snail mail since then. The ginormous exhibit hall beckons when you get to Orlando. So how do you make the vendor aspect of HIMSS17 as productive as you can?
Here are some tips to consider based on many years of navigating the exhibit floor:
Meeting with your current vendors – I’ve talked with colleagues in the past who always start here. They schedule meetings in advance or stop by just to say hello at all their primary vendors’ booths. I never fully understood this. Maybe I was a CIO in an organization with mostly internally developed systems for too long. You can connect with your primary vendors throughout the year so do you really have to spend a lot of time with them at HIMSS? It’s up to you and your specific needs and issues. If you want to see the latest and greatest products available or coming in the next year OR you have some big issues to discuss with their executives, it makes sense.
Visiting vendors that you are evaluating – IT teams are in the planning phase for new systems all the time. If you are using HIMSS to check out the market in a focused product area, this is a great chance to get the lay of the land. Scheduling meetings and demos in advance makes sense.
Exploring new products – You might be curious as to what new start-ups and innovators are doing and have a list of small firms to check out. You’ll have to work to find them since the big, established vendors buy the best floor space. But do find them – they will most likely be swarming with booth staff ready to talk to you.
Special showcases – Be sure to check out the Interoperability Showcase to see what level of integration is possible these days. And look for the HX360 Innovation Zone where many new start-ups are demonstrating their products.
You control your time – Booth staff are there to get your attention and tell you all about their products and services. They will keep you if you’re willing to stay. But you control your time and your plan. If you just need a quick informational conversation, want to pick up some materials, and leave your contact info (or not), then do that. Be polite and respectful but move on when you are ready.
Being recognized – There are lots of ribbons that attendees can wear on their badges. The CIO ribbon is one that CIOs treat differently – some would never wear it because they think they’ll be aggressively approached by everyone on the floor selling something. I am of the mind that by wearing it, booth staff easily see you are a CIO and a decision maker and you might more easily get their attention when you visit them. Go back to my previous point – remember, you control your time and which vendors you talk to.
Divide and conquer – Like my advice on education last week, plan with your team if you are going to meet with certain vendors together or you are splitting them up to cover more ground.
Maps – You can download maps in advance from the conference site. This is especially helpful for planning your time in the exhibit hall. Make your list of vendors to see, mark up the map and break it down in sections for each day.
Social media ambassadors – They can help you prepare, keep up while there, and stay connected afterwards. Follow these influencers to get the most out of HIMSS17.
#HIMSS17 Hashtag Guide – HIMSS has provided a helpful guide that lists key hashtags. Before, during and after the conference these hashtags may be helpful as you focus on what you want to learn about and follow. On both Twitter and LinkedIn, you can find related posts using the hashtags.
And last, but not least, pack comfortable walking shoes – HIMSS conference veterans understand this. New attendees may not. You will easily walk several miles each day between education sessions and exhibits. Practicality not vanity is what attendees need to think about when packing shoes. Ladies, comfortable flats or low heels should rule!