Posts tagged Networking
Crowned by the Crown Council

crown It was after my first year of dental school that I was asked to participate in Crown Council. With a direct question like that, and with a title like Crown Council, I felt like I should have known exactly what Crown Council was. Yet, at that stage of my dental school career, I barely knew how to cement a crown, nevertheless know what this “Crown Council” was.


The question was posed by Dr. Guy Gross, a successful general dentist in Salina, Kansas, and a great mentor of mine. He went on to explain that Crown Council is an international association of leading dental teams dedicated to seeking out and sharing “best practices” in order to improve the quality of care in every area of dentistry. This organization supports both individual and team growth by directing practices to focus on patient services, clinical care, and practice organization. Dentists and their teams have the opportunity to participate in Crown Council through their membership, an annual conference, and an online membership network. The purpose of the Crown Council is to help dental professionals and the members of their teams build a Culture of Success in their professional and personal lives.


When speaking of Crown Council, Dr. Gross had an energy that made me want to learn more about this organization. His explanation was quite thorough, but he did forget to mention one thing—the membership is by invite only. After receiving that invitation and experiencing Crown Council’s Annual Event, I felt like I had been crowned by The Crown Council itself. It is with the generous donation of Crown Council and Dr. Guy Gross’s clinic, New Horizons Dental Care, that I have been able to attend the last two Crown Council Annual Events.


Through the two Annual Events I attended, it was clear there were a couple themes that really resonated within the conference setting. The first theme was Walk like a 10. Crown Council supports their dental teams in ways that make their individual members feel confident, like a “10”. As teams were entering into the conference ballrooms, there were Crown Council representatives greeting everyone by name. This was absolutely a first for me to see in a conference. The representatives checked in with everyone to see how they could help them grow individually and/or as a part of their team.


The second theme works hand-in-fhand with the first theme: all dental teams were there to support each other’s dental practices. In fact, there were multiple times throughout the annual event designated for dentists to work in groups to exchange ideas and answer questions on how to become better providers and team members. Being able to sit in on these mastermind conversations allowed me to envision how much each participating member’s team would grow with these new ideas.


The third theme that was evident in Crown Council was to support the surrounding community. Crown Council is the home of Smiles for Life, a charity program that provides funding to hundreds of children’s charities around the world. The campaign has raised over $36,000,000 over the past 18 years and is the largest campaign of its type in dentistry. One aspect of this charity, supported by many Crown Council dentists, is “Whiten Your Smile and Help a Child”. This program encourages dentists to offer bleaching procedures to interested patients, with 100% of proceeds go to benefit children. Another activity at last year’s Annual Event was stuffing, dressing, and labeling 700 teddy bears, all of which were donated to Primary’s Children Hospital in Salt Lake City.


So what exactly is Crown Council? I like to think of it as an organization that supports you, your team and your community. Lecturers at the annual events focus on motivation, happiness, and health. Crown Council doesn’t exactly focus on clinical skills, but rather it seeks to improve clinical work by being a better individual within the team setting. For example, one day of Annual Session had speakers talking about marketing, reducing stress, healthy eating, proper posture, finances, and making a culture of success. Additionally, their online network allows teams to watch video series, including Skill of the Week and Mentor of the Month. Following these videos allows teams to become stronger and work better together.


My membership to an organization that supports the growth of my future team and the community is something I hope to maintain for the entirety of my dental career. I encourage all students that are interested in a post-graduate support team to look into Crown Council today. I’d be delighted to help recommend you.


Thank you Crown Council and New Horizons Dental Care for an amazing opportunity!

Networking is Not a Dirty Word

Networking PicAt some point, you might have heard the saying, “It’s not who you know, but what you know.”  This advice typically refers to networking with others in an effort to learn from professionals in your industry, exchange useful ideas, and perhaps find your dream job.  

Meeting new people is not only advantageous from a career standpoint; these new relationships may evolve into valuable, lasting friendships that enrich your life professionally and personally.  You might even lock eyes from across the room with a dashing young man (or woman) at a professional function and end up marrying them (well that happened to me, at least).


Despite the positive effects of networking, many people are apprehensive to do so.  Admittedly, the word “networking” may be a turnoff; it sparks various negative connotations of forced, awkward interactions at scheduled happy hours or meet & greets.  Instead of thinking about networking from this perspective, I suggest disposing of that notion altogether and focusing on making new lifelong relationships with people. Below are some tips to keep in mind to start forming meaningful and genuine connections with dentists, fellow students, and other professionals.


  1. Start with the right mindset


To successfully form professional relationships with people, you must be in the right mindset and have the right intentions.   Be sincere with your interactions and get to know people, listening to their stories. I have witnessed too many people networking with the blatant intention of getting a “dream job” or some other self-serving purpose.  This superficial mindset is obvious to most people and is a huge turnoff. Instead, get to know other people for the sake of getting to know them.  This alone is worth the effort of networking.  If other professional opportunities arise from knowing these new people, then that is just icing on the cake!


  1. Put yourself out there


In order to get to know people, especially in a significant way, you must break outside your comfort zone.  This means occasionally foregoing your normal routine to go to events where you might connect with new people.


Situations that might be conducive to meeting new people include organized dentistry events (e.g. CDA, MDDS, dental fraternity study clubs/networking events, etc.) or even striking up a conversation with an interesting guest speaker for a class.  Personally, I have made some great professional and personal connections at college alumni events, social gatherings, and even coffee shops.


Also, keep in mind that some of the best connections you may make are non-dentists!


  1. Keep in Touch


After meeting new people, always keep in touch.  The method of keeping in touch depends on the person, their age, and their position.  For some people, a LinkedIn request may be enough.  However, to form a significant relationship with someone, as with any relationship, both parties must work to maintain the relationship.  This includes periodic emails, phone calls, or even coffee dates.  Just like anything in life, you will get more meaning out of any situation if you put a more sincere and genuine effort into it.


Again, this goes into changing your mindset about networking—you must truly appreciate the value of forming new, meaningful relationships for professional and personal reasons.  Then, you must develop the discipline and willingness to incorporate meeting new people and keeping in consistent contact with them throughout your career.


  1. Pay it Forward


If you choose to embrace the concept of networking and putting yourself out there, never do it for selfish reasons.  The whole point of making a new connection is to develop a reciprocal, fulfilling relationship with another human being.  This is always true for any type of relationship.  With that said, always do your best to also help others along their professional and personal journey, and your efforts will surely be reciprocated in some way.


As you go through life, virtually every encounter you have is “networking”; try to keep an open mind with every encounter—you never know how it can enhance your life and how you may enhance the lives of others.



NLC x3


I still remember sitting in the back of the room, not sure what to think: it was hard to not be depressed after seeing how far ahead in ASDA spirit several other chapters were compared to us.  Rather than wallowing in sadness or shrugging it off, my rebellious spirit almost immediately stepped in.  My attitude immediately changed from one of vexation to one of determination: "Challenge accepted,” I said to myself. Equipped with a notebook full of ideas and inspiration from amazing people, I left NLC 2013 ready to get to work.

Fast forward two years, and with 20 more chapter members than were with me the first time, my feelings were very different.  I felt confident and ready to show Colorado ASDA off to the world! Sitting at the front of the room as the District 9 Trustee, I looked back at my clan of chapter members and felt so accomplished— not just because of how well our chapter had done since my first NLC, but because we were about to have yet another amazing conference!

My third NLC was much different from my first, and being on the other side of things gave me a very different perspective. My first year, I attended breakout sessions, introduced myself to those who inspired me and talked to national leaders about what it is like to be involved at that level. This year, I led two breakout sessions, tried to inspire as many people as I could, and encouraged everybody I saw to apply for a national ASDA position. All three years have been great experiences, but in completely different ways.

If I learned anything from attending NLC three years in a row, it is that you only get out of it what you put in—which is why NLC gets better each year. The benefits of networking become more and more valuable because my connections with other students have become more and more personal. The speakers become so much more motivating because I am looking for a different level of inspiration. The meetings become increasingly energizing because I am exceedingly excited to attend. Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising because that, in essence, is what ASDA is—everything you need! You take away whatever you put in and you put in whatever it is that you need. Opportunities are everywhere and it is up to us to take advantage of them. NLC is the perfect place to do that!

How the NLC Changed the Way I Think About ASDA
Two weeks into my second year of dental school I received an email notifying me that I had been selected to be fully funded to go to the National Leadership Conference in Chicago. I was excited to travel to a new city and experience the conference with my peers. Little did I know this new experience would also help me view my profession in a new way.
My first year of dental school I wasn’t as involved in ASDA as I could have been. I went to many of the lunch and learns and participated in weekend events when I had time. Up until this point I hadn’t really taken much of an interest in the power that ASDA and organized dentistry could provide me. After this conference I realized that it would be silly to continue on in my dental education without pursuing this essential side of dentistry as well.
Our dental schools do the job of teaching us what we will do as dentists as far as procedures and patient care goes. Unfortunately the time we spend in school is so limited that we barely touch on how to excel as a dentist in our profession. These characteristics are often times intangible and may have the potential to make or break us as dentists. This conference addressed many of these characteristics with sessions on practice management, ethics, finance, patient management, running a successful private practice, and many others. We got to hear from numerous talented speakers and new dentists on their transitions from school to practice and the qualities that make a good leader.
Even though I am in the deep dark cave of second year, at this conference I got a glimpse of the sweet fresh air that awaits us as dentists. This conference broadened my perspective and reminded me that dentistry is so much more than exams and lab practicals. Thankfully we will have the ability to be successful by treating our patients with tact and making smart decisions in our practice. While we may not have all of these skills right now as students, ASDA and the ADA give us the opportunities and connections to gain these skills and become successful dentists.
State Lobby Day 2015

jenna blog pic  

Dental Lobby Day comes but once a year. Dentists from various districts throughout the state come together to share their opinions with their respective state Senators and State Representatives concerning bills that relate to dental interests and trepidations. We, as students, are invited to participate in this event, as our opinions and shining young faces can influence the decisions of Senators and Representatives and their support of these bills. The list of bills that were the hot topics this year are listed at the bottom of this article.

For those you of you who have never partaken in the Lobby Day experience, let me give you a brief synopsis of how it works…


The Schedule

7:45 a.m. Arrive at the state Capitol. Pass through security screening and proceed to the basement committee room.

  • After paying a slightly absurd amount to park for this brief event (you will get reimbursed) you arrive at the State Capital building and walk through the entry security screening at any of the main entrance doors. After wandering around aimlessly for a few moments, you finally locate the hidden elevators and go down one level to the basement, where you proceed to the committee room. You pick up your color-coded folder filled with a list of talking points, legislator handouts, lobby cards, a name tag, and various reference materials including a map of the capitol and “Face Book” packets containing pictures of all of the members of the Senate and House. You enjoy a light Panera-catered breakfast and mingle with some of the familiar faces present, such as our very own Dr. Sessa.


8:00 a.m. The CDA will provide message training to discuss issues and messaging, and ask any questions. Groups are divided by their geographical location.

  • This is basically to discuss and inform us on the issues we will be lobbying, and give us the opportunity to ask any questions. Then, according to the color of our folders (they are arranged by geographic location of the districts) we are broken into groups with a team leader. For example, my yellow folder was for the East Metro region of Colorado, and Dr. Karen Foster was my team leader.


9:00 a.m. Follow your group and group leader to the 2nd floor lobby. Work with your team leaders to discuss dental issues.

  • Everyone then heads upstairs to the Senate and House floor, and this is where the real “lobbying” and excitement begins. Lobbying literally is just that; you send in a lobby card where you have written the name of your respective Senator or Representative to the nice gentleman/woman guarding the doors into the Senate or House, these cards somehow are magically delivered to that person, then they come out to the lobby to hear you give your passionate speech concerning the topic of these pressing dental issues.
  • Our group was lucky enough to be invited onto the Senate floor! Last year, I met a Senator named Bill Cadman who is from my very own hometown of Whitefish, Montana. So, I wrote his name on my lobby card and before I knew it, Senator Cadman was walking out the door holding my lobby card. Two really great things happened right then: #1 was that Bill remembered me. #2 was that Bill was apparently the newly elected President of the Senate. Neat! Bill then invited me, Annie Bielinski, Michael Murphy, and one of our baby pre-dental students that we had recruited into attending, to the Senate floor, where we sat on the perimeter of the room and watched the activity going on around us. And posed for a photo, of course. (See pic, I will email them). Bill then led us all through into his office, which was equipped with a speaker playing the discussions going on in the Senate floor. We sat in a circle and intermittently talked about the dental bills we were there to lobby, interspersed with topics varying from Paragliding, talking your way out of speeding tickets, skiing in Europe, and hearing about Bill’s various travel experiences. Hopefully Bill kept to his word and spread all of our extremely knowledgeable and convincing lobbying to the rest of the Senate.


9:45 a.m.: Switch to the lobby of the second chamber (Senate or House)


10:30 a.m.: Eat lunch with legislators and engage in more detailed conversations about dental issues


12:00 p.m. Depart the Capitol


This sums up our short, yet eventful, morning at the State Capitol. We mingled with some Senators, went onto the Floor of the Senate, sat and spoke personally with the president of the Senate, and met various dentists from throughout the state. Overall, Lobby Day is an incredible experience. It is an amazing opportunity to meet some very powerful and influential people and have an impact on legal processes that directly impact us and our future careers. I highly recommend that everyone partakes in this experience!

Lobby Day Hot Topics!

  • Access to Care: Dental Provider Designation Systems (HB 1191)
    • Last summer, a dental insurer decided to implement a provider rating system that ranks dentists using a 1-3 star rating based only on cost of care. This bill is to regulate this designation program to include other factors, including quality of care, and patient demographics.
  • Access-to-Care: Medicaid Reimbursement bill (HB 1151)
    • In 2013, the CDA launched the “Take 5” program to recruit dentists to enroll as Medicaid providers. However, Medicaid rates aren’t sustainable for dental practices. This bill is working towards better funding for Medicaid dental services.
  • Access-to-Care: Loan Forgiveness (CDPHE Budget Request)
    • To provide for increased student loan forgiveness incentive packages to recruit dentists to serve in rural and underserved areas.
  • Access-to Care: Incentives for Preceptors (no bill # yet)
    • Another step towards increasing dental access for rural and underserved areas, this bill is to increase opportunities for training in these areas by creating a provision of tax credit to preceptors.
  • Scope of Practice: Minimizing Use of the Dental Team through ITR
    • This bill is to allow dental hygienists to do Interim Therapeutic Restorations (ITR), a procedure to stop decay on a temporary basis.













Skiing? Or Something More?

IMG_0110 A few weeks ago, I attended the ASDA District 9 Meeting, informally known as the “ASDA Ski Trip”. I loved every minute of it, and not just because I got to take my brand-new snowboard and GoPro out for a test run, but because of everything else that I got from the meeting. In fact, snowboarding wasn’t even close to being the best part and here’s why.


Networking. Or as I like to call it, "building relationships." I don’t like the word “networking” because it is the relationship that I build with people that is most important, not what I can get from the people I meet. To me, the dental profession is all about relationships— relationships with patients, relationships with the community, and relationships with other dentists and specialists. One of the reasons I don’t want to specialize is because of the strong relationship that I know I can develop with my patients as a general dentist that I personally couldn’t do as a specialist. This is also one of the major benefits I see in ASDA. I have been on 8 ASDA trips so far and the people that I have been able to meet have made missing classes, rescheduling patients, and postponing studying all worth it. This trip was no exception.

Idea Sharing. If there was one benefit of ASDA meetings that gets overlooked, it is idea sharing. I am constantly either contacting or being contacted by people from other chapters looking for ideas or seeing what has worked well in different chapters. The only problem is that it is hard to explain a lot of things over texts, emails or phone calls. The chance to get people in the same room to talk about anything from chapter engagement to boards study strategies to staying healthy is absolutely essential for surviving dental school and for building resources for the chapter. If it wasn’t for the advice and resources that I got from others at ASDA events, there is no way I would have passed boards.

Inspiration. There is no doubt in my mind that we all, at some point, get bogged down with dental school— sometimes even to the point of depression. Have no fear, ASDA is here. Not only have I been inspired by the sheer fact that I am surrounded by others who have gone through, or are going through, the same struggles that I am, but some of the presentations that were given at the District 9 meeting can only be described using that word. David Rice, founder of igniteDDS, is one of the most inspirational people I know. He not only gave two amazing presentations, but he also stayed up past 3am one night answering every question that we could throw at him on topics such as running a business, how to hire, how to lead a dental team, how and where to set up a practice and more. That kind of face-time with someone so successful in a field that we are seeking to become a part of is just unheard of. What others might consider educational, David Rice can make inspirational.


Now I know what you are probably thinking: “wait... why didn’t I get to go on the ski trip and experience all of that?” And here is what I can tell you: you don’t have to attend the ski trip to get all of this... you just have to be involved in ASDA! The only thing that you missed out on by not attending the District 9 Meeting was the skiing—and we live in Colorado so you can do that anytime you want! Becoming involved in ASDA was the best decision I made in dental school and it can be yours, too. Next month is ASDA’s Annual Session in Boston, MA and another opportunity for an amazing experience similar to the one at the district meeting. I would encourage anyone who is even somewhat interested to talk to Christian or me about the options you have to attend... you won’t regret it.

~Kyle Luis Larsen, Class of 2017, Colorado ASDA President-Elect

Making the Right Connections

iStock_000005218304Small-2 There is one question that will, undoubtedly, be asked at least once by every dental student in Colorado: “What is ASDA?”

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