Making the Right Connections
The quickest and most unsatisfying answer will most certainly follow: “ASDA is whatever you want it to be.”
While visiting Chicago for ASDA’s National Leadership Conference I stumbled upon the same realization. ASDA is an extraordinarily powerful group of dental students, and by that token, ASDA is a great place to get things done.
ASDA provides opportunities to make connections with other dental students who have a similar passion, the great part is using that drive to follow through on important initiatives. Some ASDA members are driven by advocacy and lobbying efforts, some are driven by community outreach or social activities, and still, many others have a wide range of other interests. ASDA is an organization that can help you achieve what is most important to you. Here in Colorado, we describe ASDA with four words: Activities, Service, Dentistry, and Advocacy.
The key to making ASDA an effective tool is in making connections with other dental students and alumni. One of the presentations in Chicago dealt with this very topic, “How to Make the Right Connections” by Dr. Richard Bauer. This presentation gave a few useful guidelines regarding networking events. Dr. Bauer presented five ways to network effectively.
1 - Look presentable
This is fairly basic for most people, some outfits were meant for professional engagements and some outfits were meant for the club... remember how to differentiate between the two.
2 - Force yourself to get a few points across to your audience, ensure you control the conversation enough to be remembered.
This is incredibly important to remember. Try to craft words that carry value and impact. Your passion will differentiate you from the mob. Develop your 30-second elevator speech: speak in a way that will promote others to define you as unique. Take interest in the people you meet, allowing them to relay their own interests, share control of the conversation, but do not let the conversation spiral entirely out of your control.
3 - Don't try to work the room. It is not the quantity but the quality.
Sometimes we define an effective person as someone, who has a lot of connections, we may want to reconsider that definition as someone who has the right connections. Hurrying around a room acting as a business card collector may not get us any closer to our goal, and may actually backfire. Attempting to meet too many people in one night may serve to create an impression that is arrogant, disingenuous, and worst of all, forgettable. Choosing one or two of the right people, and developing a meaningful conversation, will likely lead to valued relationships and opportunities in the future.
4. Don't limit yourself to networking events.
Create opportunities to ask questions and learn about other people. This can happen on any given day in class or clinic, you may be surprised by what you find.
5. Prepare to stay in touch. Follow up. Make a point of contacting people whom you met within a day or two either by phone or email.
This is the final and critical step in the process, and the easiest step to drop the ball. Use social media as your tool rather than simply your entertainment. Connect with people and send them a note on Facebook or email, and for the times you wish to make a more genuine impact, call them and engage in a short conversation or send an actual note in the mail.
So, how is ASDA “whatever you want it to be”? ASDA connects people, and connection with others is truly the first step to following your passion. Having the right people in your corner will mean increased success. Whether your goal is service, advocacy, specialization, or other professional development, ASDA can help get you there.
Too access Dr. Bauer's full presentation as well as many other great presentation from 2014 NLC just click here.
~Benjamin Toliver Matthews, Class of 2018, Colorado ASDA Member