What do you do when the conference is over?

So you’ve spent the better part of a week learning, networking and eating and drinking. You are returning home and back to work with a bag full of business cards, a heart full of hope and a head filled with possibilities. Now what? Do you simply open the email folder, sigh at the enormity of the task of clearing your inbox and get on with work as though the conference never happened? It is an interesting question, and I would like to share some strategies with you to help your conference learnings and experience live on, if only for a while.

Get out the business cards:

  1. Make sure to clearly mark the conference name and date on each of the cards so that you can remember where and when you met these connections. You may also like to add details of your conversation and other things to help link in the future.
  2. Send follow-up emails to anyone that showed a particular interest in you and your work. Send them a recent paper or outline of the work that you are doing to keep them informed, this is purely for their interest and to keep you front of mind in case they are looking for a collaborator.
  3. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Make sure to add all your new friends on LinkedIn, this is a great way to keep in touch and to keep growing your network, you never know who they might know that you need to or want to connect with in the future.
  4. Storify the Twitter feed. You may or not have been an active person on Twitter during the conference, but you can still get insights and photos of the slides that others shared on Twitter. The easiest way to do this is to sign up to Storify and do a search for the conference hashtag. You can then sort, label, save and share all the Tweets from the conference. This is also a brilliant thing to do for conferences that you might not have been to but would like to gather the insights!

Keynote and other presenters.

Were there presenters that you didn’t get a chance to meet? Perhaps you would like their slides. Get out the conference program:

  1. Make notes about key messages from the conference and follow up with email or other mechanisms with the presenters to see if you can continue the learning.
  2. Make a list of key actions from your new learnings. They might not be things that you need or have time to do right now but its good to make some clear notes or a list on this while it is fresh in your head. I like to make a note of these during the conference by circling a capital A in my notes as I go and then adding them to an Excel worksheet after the conference. You can use whatever system will work for you.

These activities can easily be done while waiting at the airport, or during your travel home. Ideally, you will want to get these things done before the enormity of catching up on what to some will feel like a lost week, will start. Remember it’s never wasted time, it is of great value and by using the pointers in this post you can make sure that your get the most of that time and value from the conference.

What do you do after a conference or workshop? Next time you are putting the folder or notes on the shelf after an event, take a moment to think if there is anything more you can do to leverage value an opportunity before you add it to the shelf!