Here is a quick list of things you should do once you get back from any industry conference - once the jet lag or the gallons of coffee wear off...
- Sort through business cards you got at the event. Hopefully, you made notes on the back of each card to make the next step easier. Put them into piles - those that require immediate attention and those you can wait a day or two to follow up with.
- Send some emails and connect online with those you met at the conference. You should include some of the items you discussed or at least where you met. Make it personalized so that person feels like the interaction was important. Use business cards to find these folks online - via LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
- Follow up on action items - chances are you added some to-dos to your list while at the conference, so be sure to make good on what you promised.
- Review your notes and share what you learned - organize and start to create a report for yourself on what you attended, what you learned, what you'd like to learn more about, and so on. Some supervisors ask that you create a report of the event, but even if they don't, consider copying them anyway. It never hurts to provide some tangible ROI (in preparation for next year), and you can send notes to your colleagues to share ideas and information from the meeting. You may also consider posting your summaries, photos and other media on a blog or on STLE's blog to share with other conference attendees - it's a great way to maintain the dialogue and make new contacts. If you want to be a conference blogger, just let me know via email email@example.com. We'd love to have your perspective!
- Search for blogs and other items published by fellow attendees - make comments and follow up with their input - you may make even hear about something you missed.
- Start planning for next year - if you are considering presenting, attending or participating in some other way, start planning for it now. You'll have an advantage when your work starts to pile up later in the year.
- And, if you feel like it, unpack somewhere before or between steps 1 and 6.