Sunday, February 06, 2011

6 Ways to Follow Up from a Conference

There's nothing more inspiring than attending a conference, but it's all a waste if you can't follow-up.

Did you just spend 3 days learning, growing, and developing,
or did you just have an over-scheduled vacation you can write off as a business expense?

As I move through my post-Break-Forth days, I'm defining my best tools for the Art of the Follow-Up:

#1. Get over your cold.
Okay, this one is more specific to my experience, but conferences can be tiring, and in winter, you can be exposed to lots of germs and viruses. Take a day or two to catch up on lost sleep, exercise a little, and get back to healthy eating.

#2. Empty your pocket full of business cards.
I used to get to the end of a conference with stacks of anonymous business cards, and six months later they'd all be in the recycling box. If you chat with someone directly and take their card, take a few seconds to write a few words about the interaction on the card. You always think you'll remember the details, but after a few days of meeting people, faces and conversations get blurred.

#3. Do something with those cards.
If you actual met the card owner, take a minute to send them a quick email. Use that email to record their contact info in your computer or phone. If you just picked up the card from an exhibit booth, visit the website, bookmark it, and record any contact info on your computer or phone. Recycle the cards, or use them to wallpaper your office, whichever suites your fancy.

#4. Sort the swag.
I admit it! I love free stuff! I want every free pen, button, ruler, key chain, t-shirt, calender, book, and water bottle I can find! Needless to say, I find myself arriving home with a lot of ugly stuff. Take a little time to sort through the freebies and brochures. Recycle pamphlets you won't use. Find a good home for the useful stuff. Tell yourself that next time you'll exhibit more self-control (and then laugh at yourself...)

#5. Tidy your notes.
All that shorthand may make sense in the moment, but give it a month and it'll become hieroglyphics. Take an evening to review your notes, clarify your ideas, and organize the information. Not only will things look neater, but you'll actual have a chance to reinforce what you've learned (yes, it's Homework 101).

#6. Share your experience with others.
There's no better way to process what you've just learned than to teach it to others. Write an article, share your notes with a colleague, say a few words to your church or community group, or arrange to teach a workshop based on your experience. Taking the time to mull over and share your experience will help you remember details, sort through larger concepts, and spark new ideas. Keep a pen handy so you're ready when inspiration strikes!

I hope these ideas help you make the most of your conference experience. Feel free to share any other ides in the comment section.

Now, to get an espresso and dig into my notes...

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