As the liaison between Patterson and AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Managers), I am so fortunate to attend their annual conference each year (this year in Scottsdale, Arizona). I’ve been privileged to attend the last five and am always amazed at the incredible amount of information available to office managers at this event. More amazing to me are the people – in my opinion the best office managers in the business!

My post today is for those who are going to the conference, or at least thinking about it. Think of this as a guide to “making the most out of your conference experience.” This event can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers, so here are some key tips that I think will help you to 1) not be overwhelmed and 2) set some solid implementation goals for things you will learn.

Before you head to the conference, I recommend making a list of the top three challenges you deal with every day in your position. Then, list one personal goal for yourself (this can be as simple as connecting with a peer and maintaining that relationship after the conference).

As you are registering for the conference, sign up for sessions that will help you address those three challenges on your list. Don’t try to sign up for everything; trust me, there is so much information and you need to stay focused on key pieces for you.

Once you arrive, DON’T be a wallflower – make sure to attend the breakfasts each morning as this is a great way to meet peers and not only talk about the challenges you may face in your job, but get insight into solutions from people who may have been in your shoes. The networking time is a key element of this conference; you build relationships and gain resources so that you’re not alone when you go back to your day to day!

During sessions, take notes and ask questions – I’m a firm believer that the only stupid question is the one you never ask! After sessions, network with your peers and discuss what you’ve learned, also gleaning from what they’ve learned. This is also a good time to get information about a session you may not have been able to attend.

Attend the social events during the conference – the opening day happy hour, the Friday night social event, etc. These are additional opportunities for you to build relationships and get to know your peers in a more casual setting. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with attendees have been at these social events because everyone is more relaxed and not hurrying to their next session.

Make sure to spend time with the exhibitors – there are knowledgeable people representing some great organizations in attendance and one might just have a solution to one of those top three challenges on your list.

Exchange business cards and contact information with the friends you’ve made – don’t leave without making sure you have at least one card from a peer that you can use as a resource when you get home. The relationships you build at this conference can last throughout your career!

Lastly, on your way home do two things: First, look at those three challenges on your list and put three bullet points under each with how you are going to begin to tackle that challenge when you return to the office. BE REALISTIC! Don’t put down a task that you know you can’t accomplish. Finally, put together a recap of what you learned and your action plan for the next year. This recap should show how you are going to utilize what you’ve learned to help improve the practice. Sit down with your doctor and your team when you return and share this recap.

This event is one of my favorites in the dental industry. Those of you who have attended in the past know just how valuable it is. If you’re attending this year, make sure to grab me and say hi; I’m looking forward to meeting everyone. And … of course … make sure to stop by our Patterson booths – we’ve got some GREAT things to share this year! See you in Scottsdale!

10 comments on “Making the Most of the 8th Annual AADOM Conference

  1. Thanks Kim for the info. This will be my first time attending an AADOM conference. I will definately take your advice of not being overwhelmed and taking a lot of notes. I believe being part of AADOM and meeting other managers is a good way to network and take what I have learned to my office.

  2. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it this year. I have been to all but 2 annual meeting and they get better every year. The Speakers are top notch and I always find that I return motivated and excited about utilizing all of the new things I learned at the conference! It’s also an incredible networking opportunity. For those who are going this year….Have a great time!

  3. Hi Kim,
    Looking forward to my 5th AADOM conference and I agree with everything you said. I was that wallflower at my first conference and realized very quickly that I had nothing to worry about. Everyone is so helpful and friendly and I have made some great connections and learned so much over the years 🙂 I will be happy to help any of our first timers get comfy while in Scotsdale! See you soon
    Kelly

  4. Thank you Kim! This will be my 2nd AADOM conference and I am super excited! I consider AADOM to be the best CE I have attended in my 30 years in dentistry. Last year in Nashville I had a broken toe and walked from one end of the hotel to the other many times a day for all of the meetings, breakfasts, dinners, etc. and it was a haul trust me! The Gaylord is huge!!! Even without a boot on this would’ve been a workout to say the least but this conference was worth it! By the time I got on the plane to return to Texas I was in so much pain from all the walking that I was placed in 1st class at no charge by the flight attendant. My point is do not miss out on this conference for any reason. Push through all obstacles to get to this conference. You will be glad you did!

  5. I look forward to this conference all year long. Now that I’m in general dentistry instead of fee-for-service specialty (perio) I’m looking forward to looking at the topics and information from a different perspective. Kim is accurate on all accounts … See everyone soon!

  6. Kim, You couldn’t have said it more perfectly! Excellent article. I must say that the very first conference I attended in 2009, I arrived in time for the welcome social hour and you were the very first contact I conversed with and you made me feel so welcomed! I thank you for that. I look forward to reuniting with everyone I have met in the past few years, along with being able to pass on that same warm welcome I received at my first conference!

  7. Hi Kim and AADOM Family,
    Kim you are right on point with your information. It has helped me over the years to come to the meeting with a few unanswered questions. I am usually seeking some new or different information on a few topics and our meeting doesn’t fail to deliver those answers. Our members always offer fresh perspectives in which I am able to consider. The meeting leaves me rejuvenated and ready to head back to “the trenches!”
    It’s just hours until we get together for our 8th Annual meeting. I just “re-checked” my AADOM Conference checklist for the umpteenth time. I’m excited to see friends from the past and look forward to meeting new meet new ones. See you in Arizona!

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