Here is our list of things to do after a conference to preserve that post-conference glow and keep the momentum going long after the conference has ended!
In The First Days
1. Get Social
The conference does not have to end the day you check out of your hotel and go home. Keep the conversation going on social media. Conferences usually have a dedicated hashtag that attendees are encouraged to use when they tweet or share insights and learnings during the conference. But these conversations often continue post-conference. Even if you didn’t use a single social channel or the hashtag during the conference, searching the hashtag afterwards is a great way to identify professionals who will continue to provide great content. Follow those who interest you for continued learning and to find additional conference opportunities for you to attend in the future.
2. Brain Dump
Conferences can be hectic, even the most organized note takers can end up with chicken scratch and scribbled shorthand that become completely indecipherable once some time has passed. Shortly after the conference, while things are still fresh, take an hour to sit down and unload all of your thoughts onto paper. Also flesh out any notes you did take to make sure they are clear to you. This will help preserve anything that didn’t get written down or that was written down in haste for later reference.
3. Update LinkedIn
Gather all the business cards you collected during the event and within a few days after the conference, follow up with those whom you feel could be valuable contacts. The most obvious place to connect is on LinkedIn, where most professionals have come to expect connection requests post-conference. Remember to write a personalized salutation so they are able to connect the dots on how you met. You’d be surprised at how often these contacts will come in handy if you’re utilizing your network regularly.
If you really bonded with someone in particular don’t hesitate to send them a text message or give them a call directly.
In The First Weeks
4. Download Presentation Decks
Many conferences offer the presentation decks for download during or after the conference. Make sure you have all the decks you found to be helpful and if you’re missing any hunt them down. Often, conferences will utilize the conference website or SlideShare to post the decks. You can also reach out to the speaker directly via LinkedIn or you can contact the event coordinator and ask them to email the presentation to you.
5. Assess The Conference Value
I’m a dollars and cents kind of person and it’s important to me to make sure that every dollar is spent wisely. This is also important in the nonprofit space where those dollars can be hard to come by. One way I determine the value of a conference is to gather all of my expenses and then sit down and think through the takeaways to see if I can determine the ROI of a conference. If I was able to get answers to some questions I’ve had, find a vendor that creates efficiency in my day-to-day or solves a challenge I’ve been facing then the conference was of high value. This exercise helps me to determine whether I will re-attend the conference the following year and to evaluate other conference opportunities as they come up to ensure I am choosing to attend the most valuable conferences I can.
6. Facilitate Connections
If you’ve made a contact that might benefit another contact, make the introduction. I believe this is where conference karma comes into play. As you build your network, you should always be looking for ways to help others build their own. Nothing beats a vetted introduction!
7. Put What You Learned Into Practice
If you fleshed out your notes and completed a thorough brain-dump in the first few days post-conference then you have everything you need to put what you learned into practice. Revisit your notes and your brain dump and ask yourself these questions:
What resonated with you most?
How can you use that information to do your job better or faster?
Did the conference make you realize that you have a skill, talent, process, or technology gap?
Think through how you can begin to implement what you learned and start fleshing out your plan. What are the concrete steps you can take to use the learnings to improve?
8. Pass Along Knowledge
Chances are, budget only let you send one person from your team to the conference when others on the team could have benefited. Share key learnings with those who weren’t able to attend and could benefit. Write a brief report, create a PowerPoint presentation or set up a brown bag lunch session. At minimum, share relevant presentation decks and draft an email with a bulleted list of useful takeaways and include pertinent links.
The First Months
9. Connect Teams
Some of the most amazing innovations I’ve seen have come from post-conference follow up where I was able to connect my team with the team of another organization. If you connected with an organization that is doing really amazing things and you’d love to implement something similar, reach out and see if you can get your teams together. Have them present how they are doing what they’re doing and how your team can implement something similar in your organization. Often something even better comes out of these meetings with everyone sharing ideas and results.
10. Schedule Yelp Dates
Getting together in person is the ultimate in networking. Reach out and ask folks to get together for coffee, happy hour, lunch or dinner. These meetups are a great way to share challenges and solutions, talk through resources and compare vendors. I find this kind of networking to be the most valuable way to build rapport with professional connections who are in the same trenches I am. This has allowed me to build a robust support network that has come to my rescue and mine theirs many times. I highly recommend yelp dates!
11. Plan Additional Conferences
Seek out additional conferences you might want to attend and start planning your conference calendar. Use the value assessment you completed in the first months of after the conference to re-evaluate conferences you had bookmarked and find new ones that you think may provide the most value to you and your team.
There you have it, your conference experience can pay dividends for months to come if you follow these tips!
What do you do after a conference? Share in the comments!