Six Practical & Positive Post Conference Practices
Let's face it: attending and participating in conferences is an expensive proposition: interrupting your work week and taking the time to travel and spend big bucks on a conference is a lot of work and money! Yes, it's a lot of fun too, but after dropping a couple hundred bucks locally or up to $5000+ to attend a meeting outside of your hometown/state nationally or internationally, one would hope there's some return on investment in that attendance (and the one seeking that ROI is either your boss if the company paid for you to attend, or you, if you're footing the bill).
So, here's my research question:
What do YOU do after every conference you attend?
Here's what I try to do...I don't always hit the mark on every conference I attend, but this is my goal:
Practical & Positive Post Conference Practices:
1. Reach out to everyone you met (or reconnected with) after you return home -The easy way is email (or through a LinkedIn request for new people); the more creative and cool way is through one of those good old-fashioned hand-written thank you notes. I personally printed a bank of postcards and use them all the time in correspondence. Extend the long tail of the meeting by reaching back out and stating it was great to meet the newbies or great to reconnect with the not-so-newbies! Tweet. Connect. Just do it!
2. Reach out quickly - If you wait too long, people get busy and forget the connections. Strike quickly!
3. Personally thank the person that suggested the conference to you, or who invited you - If someone suggested you attend this conference for the first time and you got something out of it - great! Thank whomever it was who suggested it to you, and honor them with your gratitude. If someone at the event invited you to speak - same deal.
4. I put my lanyard on my wall of fame - So this was what I specifically asked about over at the faceplace earlier. Do you keep your meeting lanyards? Some people don't--they recycle them. Others put them on the back of their office doors. Some have a place in their closet or their office to hang them. Some keep them like trophies! Personally, I keep mine and used to have all of them hanging from my wall of fame...UNTIL they fell off my patronus--or turned it upside down--due to the weight issue. Now, I just have all the 2017 lanyards on the wall, and the rest in a box, trying to figure out what I should do with them:
5. I try to put all my notes and conference materials in one place - Believe it or not, I keep my conference materials. Honestly, I even refer back to most of them over time. Items included in a conference binder that increase my likelihood of keeping them: agendas, slides, sponsors, and the holy grail: a list of attendees with contact info. Not many meetings offer a list of attendees anymore - but I wish they did! I have one bookshelf in my home office that warehouses my binders and conference materials, and I buzz straight over to that shelf anytime I need to plan an event or conference myself in order to take the best hits of all the others to create something truly awesome--why reinvent the wheel?!?
6. I try to implement or learn more about at least 2-3 ideas I learned at the conference ASAP - At SXSW, that meant reserving 3 books or more at the library (I did that online while I was sitting in the audience--check!) At HIMSS, it was follow up on a podcast--check, and learn more about informatics, which I'm still doing. And tomorrow night at an HBA chapter event, I'm sure the gals there will give me some great ideas to check into and out of ASAP. Even the Excel class I took yesterday at the local library - after returning to the office, I tried out 3 short cuts and used them a lot today! You're never going to retain EVERYTHING from meetings you attend; but if you can grab 3 ideas and try them out right after (or even during) the conference, chances are they will stick with you a lot longer.
Erin Albert is president of HBA Indiana.