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Getting the Most Out of SCOPE 2024 | ProofPilot

Micah Lieberman and I  recently had a live chat on LinkedIn about getting the most out of the SCOPE Summit, which is a yearly conference for Clinical Operations professionals, attracting approximately 3500 attendees each year and covering a broad set of topics related to clinical research.

Tom cruise

After thinking about this more, I’ve put together a more comprehensive guide for Sponsors who are looking to maximize the value of their attendance at this year’s big event:

  1. Be present: Resist the urge to be on your laptop as if you were working your normal day and set that expectation with your internal colleagues. Meanwhile, carve out dedicated time for face-to-face meetings while at SCOPE and decline as many internal meetings as you can.

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  2. Must see sessions: Do your research and be ruthless about which sessions you’ll go to no matter what – max 4 per day. (This isn’t open mic night where you just go and support friends performing). Do this now.

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  3. Nice to see sessions: Have a second tier of sessions that you’re interested in as well, but willing to miss for higher priority, opportunistic engagements or hallway run ins. You never know what you’ll find!

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  4. Know when to bail: Every session isn’t going to be a home run. When you sense that a session isn’t going to pan out the way you thought, leave and hit the exhibit hall to connect with those vendors you didn’t formally schedule to see as they will be always waiting in the wings. Speaking of which, have a punch list of vendors that you are looking to connect with and make it a goal to see them.

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  5. Vendors: Speaking of vendors, as I mentioned, be intentional about which companies you need to learn more about. I always made it my goal to recognize as many companies as I could and position them in my own mental model of the vendor market, though today, a quick Google search will serve up any number of market maps for you. Equally important, when you meet with a vendor, ensure that they have truly fallen in love with a specific business problem. Statements like, “we want to advance human health” or “we want everyone to participate in research” – that’s motherhood and apple pie stuff. Noble? Yes! But is that a problem to be solved by their capability? Will your or your company’s objectives be measured by it? Don’t settle for vision statements.  

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  6. Divide and conquer: This isn’t the time to hang out with just your coworkers for three days. You’re there to broaden your horizons. If you must buddy up, move through the event purposefully and tag team engaging with vendors and peers to learn. Your strategy should be coverage, not comfort. Seriously, if you don’t return with some new learnings or connections, you won’t be sent again. At least I wouldn’t send you.

  7. Don’t forget – SCOPE is about you too: Use the time practice and hone your own elevator pitch about what you do & what you’re passionate about. You will be asked hundreds of times, “So what do you do?”

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  8. Learn and teach: SCOPE is about sharing knowledge among a wide variety of smart, experienced people. You don’t know everything, so be humble and ask stupid questions. Also, be responsibly generous with your knowledge to the extent allowed. Relevant perspectives about your company process, governance, and approach to research that can help a vendor better position themselves will also help you in the end.

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  9. You hate networking: Get over it. SCOPE and other conferences are defined by the power of the network, and you are either part of it or not. It’s truly one of those black and white things in life. You don’t have to be grandstanding or be the life of the party, just be open and approachable to new connections. Yes, make time for longtime friends, just remember that they were once strangers and you met them by getting out of your comfort zone. So keep doing that. We’re a friendly bunch!

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  10. Before or After-hours events: Here’s a secret. Believe it or not, after a day at SCOPE all I really want to do is binge Netflix, eat a big pizza and have a glass of wine alone in my hotel room. But this is the big leagues and so assuming you have the requisite spoons* (iykyk) to make it happen, get out there and mix it up with your industry colleagues. Ask the hard questions, be vulnerable and have fun. Clinical research is a people business through and through, and people work with people they like. You can’t begin to like them until you trust them. And you can’t trust them if you don’t know them. Again, divide and conquer! There is always an event that fits your way of socializing: a morning run, pre-dinner gathering, sit down dinner, or an after party.

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* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory  

Bonus Tip: There are always charlatans in every industry. In my experience, they usually come up to you with some form of flattery or acknowledgement of something you or your company has done or posted on LinkedIn. Your instinct may be to return a gracious, “thank you.” But don’t be fooled. Sniff them out by asking back, “Oh, tell me which part really resonated with you?”  Their answer will tell you everything you need to know.