After a Conference: Do Your Homework

I’m just back from a national communications conference. I’ve networked, learned and recharged. But I still have some things I need to do to make the most of my conference experience.

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Photo by Cynthia Price

Stay Social Keep the conversation going on social media. Continue using the conference hashtag to share how you are applying what you learned at conference to your job. Identify those individuals who were active on social media and from whom you will continue to learn and follow them.

Update LinkedIn Either at the conference or soon after I return to the office, I follow up with those whom I would like to stay connected. I found LinkedIn to be the best spot for this. When I reach out, I include a personal message, noting that we met at the conference. Throughout the year, I can then reach out to my expanded network.

Send thank-you notes If it’s a small conference, you may want to thank the organizers for a successful conference. Or perhaps hotel staff were particularly helpful. Take a moment to write a note acknowledging their assistance and thanking them for going above and beyond. If you were new to the conference and someone showed you the ropes, send that person a thank you. If your boss sent you to the conference, be sure to thank her for the opportunity.

Purchase recommended readings Speakers recommend books, websites and TedTalks. Make a list of the ones that resonate with you and then schedule time to review the sites and listen to the talks. You can check the books out from your library or order them from your local bookstore. And then make the time to read the books. One way to ensure this is to pack your lunch for a week or two and find a quiet place where you can eat your lunch while reading your book.

Capture take-aways I take a lot of notes at conference, and after my first conference, I never did anything with the notes. Now I do. I always identify one key take-away from each session I attend. I collect all of those in one place so I can periodically refer to them. I also identify action items and add them to my calendar to ensure they get done. I also take my notes on a laptop or on my phone. This way they are stored digitally and are easier to access. If I happen to handwrite notes, I scan them when I return to the office and file them digitally.

Reflect Did you identify any skills you need to develop? Is there a new tool that you need to learn how to use? Think about what you heard and learned at conference and what you may need to do to ensure you are keeping current with your skills and experience.

Share What you learn at the conference will likely be of use to your team. When you return, share key learnings with others. You can write a brief report, create a PowerPoint, hold a brown bag lunch session or create an infographic. At a minimum share a list of useful takeaways and relevant links.

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