You go to a conference. It's refreshingly informative, and you actually learn. You take lots of notes, and plan on starting Monday back at the office with a whole new perspective and set of tools to be even better at what you do.
Then Monday slams into action with 372 unread emails, a meeting in 20 minutes, and a phone that won't stop ringing. That’s life.
So how do you make the most of what you learned at a conference?
Good Note Taking
You can start by taking great notes at the actual event. Don’t be concerned with getting down every detail -- just make sure your notes are legible (if writing by hand) because it might be several days until you take a look at them.
Once you’re back at your home base, try re-fashioning those notes into a more cohesive document that you, or others, can refer back to in the future, and put reminders in your calendar to do so.
Take advantage of the great blogging opportunity -- it will help summarize the event for yourself, and leave an online record for others. You don’t want to hoard all that new knowledge -- pass it along to your co-workers. Experts say things stick in your head better if you teach them to someone else.
Before you leave town, let your social media circle know what conference you’ll attend, and that you’ll be passing along pertinent information as the event progresses. Utilize a hashtag to help keep your tweets or Instagram posts on message.
Getting the most out of a conference isn’t always about learning; it’s also about making new contacts and expanding your professional network.
While you’re there, take the time to meet some new people. Have business cards handy. Jot down a note on the back of others’ cards about your conversation, then reach out the next week with a personalized note. You never know when a never business opportunity will strike! And don’t forget to look for your new contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Another great way to get the most out of a conference is to know what you want going into it. Next time you plan, be proactive with your goals and plan how to get what you want out of it, and know which sessions and exhibitors are most worth your time.
Olivia Tomlin is the vice president of development and operations at Envision Conference Center in Brentwood, Tenn.