Attending a multi-day conference, trade show, convention or educational event can be a great way to give your career a boost. The ideas, information, best practices, exposure to new products or services, and the networking opportunities can all add up to un-matched inspiration and a renewed excitement to do your job.
However, when you get home and return to the regular routine, if you do not take action on implementing what your learned or connecting with the people you met, the ROI of attendance can quickly diminish.
Here are three things you can do on the last day of the event that will help you capitalize on the whole experience.
1. Schedule appointments to follow up with people. Meeting someone one time does NOT make them part of your network, and exchanging a business card or LinkedIn request does not mean that there is a real relationship going forward. Seek out the three to five people you most enjoyed meeting and set up a time to connect by phone or Skype a few weeks after the conference.
Make sure there is a purpose to the conversation, not just a chance to "ping" someone. If there is not a clear business purpose (you buy their product or service, etc...) a good idea is to tell them you respect their point of view and would like to talk for a "sharing de-brief" about the highlights of the conference. Often two people find very different benefits from attending an event. After a couple of weeks the top ideas are clear. When you chat with another person about the most valuable tid-bits of information, you both can find powerful insights that were not clear while on site.
2. Seek out the event organizers. Meeting organizers and those who work for the host organization put in a lot of time, effort, planning, and energy into creating the amazing programs that took place at the event. Very few people ever come up to them and say "Thank You". It means a lot to them when sincere praise of the conference is shared verbally (not just on some electronic survey). When you do this you will be noticed and remembered.
Getting on the radar of these organizers can often bring future opportunities to you or your company. When they are seeking speakers or need other input for future events they will often reach out to those who they have met. When there is a positive conversation it often leads to ongoing rapport. Something as simple as telling them what you most enjoyed about their event could get you involved next time (and that brings you added visibility in your industry).
3. Write a personal review of the event. Doing this while waiting for your plane (or on the flight) is a great way to categorize all the best learning points and gives you a chance to make a list of the people you met. By committing your thoughts to paper it allows you to clearly grasp what aspects of your participation were the most valuable.
Once back at the office you can edit this review for public distribution and share the document with your boss and co-workers. Not everyone in your organization was able to attend the event, but your synopsis of the highlights will bring them fresh ideas and maybe bring them some new motivation. Additionally your report will remind the people you work with that you trip was not just an expensive boondoggle but a valuable work experience.
Have A Great Day.
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com