You probably attend conferences all the time. You take great notes, network during the coffee breaks and ask challenging questions to the speakers. You feel fired up and momentum from a full day of sessions and knowledge. Then you go back to work and have a day’s worth of emails to catch up on and reality hits you like a martini in the face. All those well-intended hand written notes get shoved into a drawer never to be seen again. Wisdom gets filed away for rainy day.
We are all guilty of it. But it seriously impacts our motivation, momentum and desire for change. So, here are 5 ways you can stop LIFE from getting in the way of you taking action after a conference:
1. Set objectives: As soon as you buy the conference ticket, write down 3 objectives of what you want to get out of this experience. By setting your intentions early, you not only build anticipation for the big day but you are preparing your brain and essentially setting the stage for learning and growth. You are giving your brain a subtle head’s up that new information is coming and here’s why its important. You also remind yourself of the significance of you making the investment of time, energy and money in attending the conference. With so much to gain, there’s no room for guilt of missing a day at the office.
2. Showcase your growth mindset: You have to set that annoying out of office assistant before you leave for the conference. Why not leverage the chance to do some personal branding? Instead of the generic ‘I’m out of the office today’ message, write a more creative out of office message telling people where you are going and encourage them to ask you to share 1 takeaway when you get back. Colleagues, clients and suppliers will be intrigued (and they’ll know that you take development and growth seriously).
It could sound something like this:
Hi there, thanks for your message. I’m out of the office today joining over 500 global professionals at a 1 day seminar on Diversity in the Healthcare Industry. Looking forward to learning new recruitment strategies and talent development tools to bring back to the organization. I’m happy to share so feel free to ask me about key learnings,( also means I have take good notes!)
Look forward to responding to your message upon my return.
3. Use social media to keep you accountable: Post your real-time learnings on Facebook, tweet out a genius phrase the speaker just declared, share your top 3 takeaways on LinkedIN. When people in your social circles know you are attending a conference, they are likely to ask you about it. Which means you have to be prepared to share your learnings with them. This element of public accountability positively forces you to not only share knowledge but also commit to taking action ( because people are watching!)
4. Keep a separate page of your notebook for Action Items: This has helped me filter through pages of messy conference notes. I usually keep one blank page at the back of my notebook for Action Items. I can easily flip to it to note down powerful questions I want to answer after the conference, books to pick up or websites to check out. It becomes a laundry list of actions I’m inspired do post-conference. I save time and energy documenting it in one place instead of re-reading my notes to pick out the to-do’s. Putting dates to each action item offers accountability and helps me do what I’m intending to do. It also gives me a good sense of satisfaction when I can cross out items from this list ( sometimes even by the end of the day!)
5. Sit beside strangers: For those of you who usually attend conferences with flocks of friends or colleagues, I highly recommend you ditch them ( in a polite way) when you’re choosing seating or a lunch table. Attending a conference is a fantastic way to meet new like-minded individuals, potential clients and soon-to-be collaborators. But you have to let go of the crutch of your crowd and be brave enough to start a conversation with a stranger. Here are some great opening lines to initiate a conversation at any conference:
“ So, how did you hear about this conference?”
“ Who are you excited to hear speak today? Why?”
“ What motivated to you attend this year?”
“ What are you walking away with from today?”
There you have it- 5 simple ways to maximize a conference and get the real return on your investment of time, energy and money. So, go connect and watch the magic of what happens.
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