So, you’re back home from that conference, and all that is left to do is to relax and enjoy your swag, right? Maybe not. To make the most of your conference experience, your work should be just beginning when you unpack that suitcase.
If you made the most of your time at the conference, you made a lot of new contacts and expanded on old ones. When you get home, it is time to start carrying those relationships into the future. And when an event is fresh in your mind is also when you need to evaluate your experience to decide what worked and what didn’t about it.
There are four main follow-up tasks to complete after a conference to ensure that the benefits of the conference continue long after the event is done.
Keep your promises. The first thing to do when you get home from an event is to keep any promises that you made while you were there. Did you promise to email someone, send someone something, or put information up on your web site? Get that done as soon as possible. Thanks to your phone or a laptop and on-the-go wireless, you may even be able to get some of these tasks done before you get home. Keeping your promises, and in a timely manner, will mark you as reliable and trustworthy, and the contact will bring you to forefront of people’s minds again.
The biggest challenge in keeping promises may be in remembering what promises you made during the chaos of an event. A good tactic is to have a dedicated place to record promises as soon as you make them. It can be a page in your Moleskine, or a notes file on your phone, but the important thing is that you should automatically make a note whenever you make a promise.
Follow up with contacts. This activity can take many forms depending on the interaction you had and your work. It can mean sending emails to say how much you enjoyed a conversation, or calling someone to discuss potential business. You might want to follow people on places like Twitter and Facebook to keep in contact with them regularly. The key is to make contact and extend the relationship past the event itself.
Enter contacts in your manager. It’s all too easy to put off the tedious task of entering business cards in your contact manager, especially if you don’t have a card scanner. But it’s best to do it before you forget who the people in that stack are. Use the notes field to help you remember key points from your contact that might be useful in doing business (or just reminding you who the person is) later. Use the date field to record when the information you entered was current. It only takes a moment to enter that date but the rare times you need it, you will be glad you did.
Review the event. Lastly, you need to report to yourself about the event. While it is fresh in your mind, consider what worked well and what didn’t. Think about what you’d do differently if you attended again. Should you attend more seminars? Did you need more time to visit vendors than you anticipated? Would you like to pre-plan more evening events? Make a few notes for yourself that you can refer to when planning to attend again.
What do you do (besides unpack) when you get home from a conference?