Now what?

Beth GoodyearBeth Goodyear offers advice on what you should do once you get back to work from an industry conference. 

The conference is finished; now what? Start by considering why you went in the first place.

Did you want to learn? Were you hoping to hear about best practice, innovations and real-life case studies you could apply at your workplace? Or maybe you wanted to network? For some, it’s the pressure of not missing out on an industry event with their peers.

Whatever the motivation, such events offer opportunities: people looking for new jobs, companies seeking new clients, and clients trying to find new suppliers. For some it is an extension of their workday, for others just a day out of the office. Our motivations for following up post-conference may also be linked to who paid for the ticket. Good conferences aren’t cheap: the IWFM 2020 Conference ranges between £159-299 and Workplace Futures 2020 Conference between £425-475. So carefully consider why you’re attending and what you want from it.

Here are five actions to help maximise the potential return on investment (ROI) and get the most from the experience.

Reflect
After the conference take time to reflect. Make a note of what you took away from the event; don’t worry about structure, just do a brain dump:  

  • What did you learn?    
  • What did you find most interesting and why?    
  • What did you discuss with the people you met there?    
  • Did you speak to any of the sponsors, do you need their services, or do they need yours?    
  • What actions do you need to follow up with in the short, medium and long term?    
  • Are you interested in attending more conferences?    
  • What would you do differently at your next event?


Follow up – with people
During the conference you will have listened to speakers, chatted to other attendees, done a bit of networking and spoken with sales teams on the sponsor stands.

Identify those with whom you wish to maintain contact. Make use of business cards and email directly with a personal message or connect on LinkedIn with a short note: “We met recently at X conference.”

If you use Twitter, follow them, but see who they are following and expand your network. Whatever your motivation for connecting, personalise your invitation: “I really enjoyed your session on X” or “it was great to meet you and I was really interested hearing about your work on Y.”

Follow up – with information
There’s a brief post-conference ‘window of opportunity’ to follow up on the things you heard and learned.  Speakers will have referred to websites, resources, tips and suggestions, all of which you probably scribbled down.

It won’t be long until those notes make no sense, as all context will have gone and you’ll either throw them away or delete them and get on with your busy day. Check out the information immediately after the conference and save anything useful or interesting.

Be proactive
Look back at your reflections in step one and do something about them. Book your next conference, find a training course, go on a site visit, research a subject, read a book, phone a supplier, meet a new connection for a coffee, offer to speak at an event! Life is busy and it is easy to put things off, so use this post-conference motivation as a springboard to do something new!

Share
Others will be interested in the things that you found motivating and inspiring, so share what you learnt. Share with colleagues in team meetings, with your network through social media and, if it’s relevant, outside the workplace, share with friends and family – the ROI will be immeasurable! 

Beth Goodyear is the owner of FMHS Consulting

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