Industry trade show invitations show up in inboxes year-round—how, as an OD, can you justify time away from your practice? I see it as a responsibility to the profession to make the most of these events, as trade shows offer an abundance of opportunities for education, networking and community-building. With Vision Expo West next month, planning and organization are the best ways to tackle such a comprehensive event.

The first thing I do in planning for a trade show is set a goal—usually related to continuing education. I space out the courses over a few days so as to not overwhelm myself, and I leave time for meetings with optical and equipment vendors, which I schedule ahead of time.

Industry trade shows are a great way to keep up with the latest and greatest in technology products and education. I love checking out new ways I can impress my patients with technology. When my patients come into my office they are so impressed with technology that they haven’t experienced before, whether it’s refracting from my iPad or offering the latest in lid hygiene treatments. I also learn more about industry initiatives, such as Think About Your Eyes, which is bringing patients into our offices.

Trade shows are the best time to network—attend happy hours and vendor appreciation parties. Many optometry schools offer alumni receptions. Walk the show floor—you’d be surprised who you run into.

In between all the work and networking, make some time for you and have some fun. Trade shows such as Visio Expo are in fun cites with great shows, entertainment and restaurants. Make a reservation to do something memorable.

Trade shows are also a time to bond with your staff, and it allows them to be a part of something bigger than your office. You make them a part of a culture and an industry that can potentially have a huge impact on their professional lives. They have the ability to learn and network with others to bring back ideas and processes that can help grow your business. Aside from professional development and learning new skills, it can also be a reward for their hard work. Taking them to a trade show can create a sense of community and demonstrate that you really value their work. I’m excited to surprise my staff with show tickets in Las Vegas this year at Vision Expo West. Investing in your staff will make your customer service remarkable. Remember, you want to treat your staff how they would treat your patients.

ODs should attend trade shows to get reinvigorated with the industry we are a part of. Sometimes day-to-day operations and work can get redundant after a while. Trade shows are a great pick-me-up and get you re-excited about patient care and your business.

Bimal Patel, OD, is a member of the Texas Optometric Association’s New Grad Task Force, a member of The Vision Council’s Young Professionals Board, and one of 20,000 doctors listed on the Think About Your Eyes online locator. First Vision Media Group is a media partner of Think About Your Eyes.


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