Back to the grindstone?
Ok, you prepared well, you schmoozed like a natural – what next? If you’re anything like 90% of conference attendees*, you fully intended to re-read the notes you took during the event once you got back to the office but didn’t get round to it. Most of us it seems get back to the day job and dive straight in to the pile of work waiting for us, stuffing business cards in drawers and conference folders in a pile.
But what can you do differently? How can you make the most of the time you spent at conference once you’ve left?
The chances are you collected a few business cards, social media connections or even an invitation or two. Rather than putting them in your desk drawer, why not go through your cards and new contacts and decide what action, if any, you intend to take with each person. At its simplest, this may mean sending a ‘touching base’ email to the people you met, or more specific actions like scheduling a meeting, inviting them to an event, or introducing them to a colleague/associate. Whichever it is, making a second contact is always a positive step in building your relationships and networks in your sector.
Go back through your notes
Set aside some time in the week or two following the conference to go through your notes, observations and quotes and pull out the ‘gems’. These could be ideas, website references, actions, books to read, notes to speak to a colleague about a specific issue. Whatever it is, there a chance you’ve forgotten it amongst the multiple conversations you’ve had and presentations you’ve seen. This gives you the chance to check out the website you noted down, or research the new online tool referred whilst they are still fresh in your mind. The decisions you make on whether to pursue or park the issue now will be far better than one made in eight months’ time when you stumble across your old notes. Seize the day!
Share and share alike
Once you’ve been through your notes and sifted through the insights, tips and inspirations gleaned and the contacts made, you’ll be able to summarise your key take-outs. One of the best things you can do with these is to share them with your colleagues. Give a talk about something you learned at your next team meeting, write up a short article for your staff intranet and tell your boss about some of the interesting contacts you met. Spreading your new skills and knowledge increases the value of attending conferences for your employer…and makes it more likely they will invest in sending you back again.
*Non-verifiable statistic derived from qualitative data i.e. chatting with people in conference coffee queues.