This is the third blog post in the Event Attendance series.
I recently attended the WritersUA conference where I got to talk shop with people in my industry from across the US and from Australia. I knew it would be a great opportunity to meet a wide range of people from my industry.
In this series of blog posts, I’m going to share with you ideas for getting the most from a conference, industry event, or local meetup. You can use and modify this information to cover everything from single evening events to multiple day industry conferences.
Building On Your Connections
After attending the conference, I invested a little time to reinforce the connections I made and get the most from what I learned.
- At the end of the conference (or at the end of each day), use the business cards you collected to send a brief email to each person. Use the information you wrote on the back to help you remember the conversation, and mention in the email what you talked about. This makes sure they have your email address in case they lose their business cards in the confusion of travel.
- Add the people on the business cards to your contact manager. In the notes section, mention the conference and all of the information you wrote on the back of the card. If possible, create a contact category for the conference or event and tag each person. This makes it easier to locate them before the next event.
- If someone offered you a suggestion to solve one of your business challenges, drop him a note to explain how you are going to implement the solution, and offer to share the final outcome. Remember to thank him for sharing a new idea with you, even if you discover later that his solution strategy won’t work in your situation.
- When you use information you learned at the event, even months later, share that with your event connections, the session speaker, or the person who gave you the information. Give people credit for ideas that make your world better. That’s what leaders do.
- Update your status on each social media site to say you just returned from the conference or event.
- Write a blog post, or write on your Facebook profile, or use Twitter to summarize your experience of the conference.
- Use your business cards to invite people to join you on LinkedIn. This social networking site is geared for professional connections (rather than personal friends), and most people are open to adding new professional contacts to their network. But act quickly, and customize the invitation for each person to include the conference or event name where you met.
- Locate the people you met on Twitter (if you use Twitter) and follow them. Send them an @reply to say hello and that you are looking forward to reading their tweets going forward. Some people will follow you back, but don’t ask them to follow you, and don’t expect them to follow you. If they do, thank them.
- In general, don’t invite new professional connections to become your friend on Facebook. While some people would be open to this, most people keep Facebook for their personal life.
- Some companies and freelance professionals do have business Facebook pages that allow you to become a fan or join their company group. Feel free to “fan” or “join” a group for people you meet in this situation.
Returning With The Goods
If your employer paid for your attendance at the conference, even if they just allowed you time off work, you owe it to them to share the information.
- If you have an internal blog, write up a summary of what you learned.
- Create an ebook with your account of new information and share it internally.
- Offer to hold an lunch time brown bag session the following week to share the highlights of what you learned with all interested co-workers.
- If you have any questions about how to best share what you learned, as your manager for the best strategy for giving back.
- Offer to take your boss to lunch as a thank you gesture. Be prepared to share the specific things you learned that you can put to use immediately because of your attendance. Let the person who approved your trip see a return on investment right away if you want to keep getting approved for similar events.
- If another department or team could benefit from what you learned, liaise through your manager to offer to share the information with them.
Complete a Post Mortem
- Immediately after you return, make a list of the things that went well and the things that didn’t work as expected. You can use this information the next time you prepare for an event.
- Do a brain dump of everything you want to remember from the event while it is still fresh in your mind. Any details you don’t write down now will deteriorate in your mind. Don’t let memory rot rob you of those nuggets.
What do you think? Is there something I’ve forgotten to include? Share you suggestions and activities with the community through a comment.