Just returning from an industry conference? Here’s what to do now.
Industry conferences can be both invigorating and overwhelming. Traveling, attending sessions, meeting scores of new people, and taking in tons of information can wear a person out. After getting back to the office, many conference attendees look at all the work that piled up while they were out and reflexively jump right back into their routine.
No matter how tired or behind you are, it’s important to give yourself time to digest the industry conference experience and firm up connections with new contacts. Consider this your post-conference action plan:
1. Strike while the iron is still hot. Within a few days of the conference ending, follow up with the connections you made. Connect on LinkedIn or send an email. The key in both cases is to write personalized — not generic — messages. Make a point to mention something related to a conversation you had with the person. And if you really bonded with someone in particular, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
2. Start putting what you learned into practice. Going to an industry conference isn’t just about collecting business cards and expanding your professional network; it’s about your professional development. Reflect on the most helpful or enlightening things you learned. 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 skills gap or need to create a more detailed career development plan? If so, what concrete steps can you begin taking today to get up to speed or improve your work performance?
3. Pass along your newfound knowledge. If others on your team weren’t able to attend the industry conference, share key learnings with them. Write a brief report, create a PowerPoint presentation or set up a brownbag lunch session. At minimum, share relevant handouts you received and draft an email with a bulleted list of useful takeaways and include pertinent links. (After the event, you can often find a treasure trove of helpful information on the conference website — or on the blogs or websites of those who presented.)
4. Offer feedback. If you receive a post-conference survey, fill it out. Better yet, send a note to the conference organizers to offer your praise or to provide constructive feedback on improvements you feel could be made. Also, if a conference speaker impressed or inspired you, be bold and email him or her. In addition to simply being a nice thing to do, this type of gesture can potentially lead to a valuable connection.
5. Thank your boss for sending you. If your employer paid for you to go to the industry conference, be sure to offer your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate the benefits of the experience. A sincere “thank you” can go a long way, particularly if you’d like to attend future conferences.