Attending a conference can be beneficial in so many different ways. Conferences are an opportunity to hear new ideas, get expert advice on old ideas, and increase the size of your personal and business network.
In fact, there is generally so much going on at a conference that it can be difficult to sort through everything that you’ve taken in when you get back to your day to day reality. You’ve listened to so many speakers, taken so many notes and shaken so many hands that everything blurs together when you think back on it.
Following are five tips to help you collect your thoughts, keep your focus, and make the most of the time you spend at business, industry, and legal conferences.
1. Pick One Action Item From Each Session
The amount of information you take in at a conference can be overwhelming. You’ll likely be writing down all kinds of notes as you move from one session to another, listening to different speakers.
While it’s good to write down as much as you can in as much detail as you need, it’s important to make sure that when you come back to your notes later you can easily return to the key points. As you’re taking notes, try to pick out one actionable item from each session that you think will be most beneficial for you or your law firm and make that the headline. We’re fans of Evernote for note taking.
At the end, you’ll have a short, organized list of action items that you can discuss with partners and colleagues. When you’re back in your office, you’ll be able to pull out the most beneficial bits of information you’ve collected in minutes instead of hours.
2. Commit To Teach What You’ve Learned
One of the main benefits of the concentrated education you receive at a conference is what you can teach your colleagues when you return. Make the commitment to take what you’ve learned and pass it along through one or more presentations.
Presenting to your colleagues is not just good for them, it helps you too. Teaching is the best way to learn. By committing to teach someone else what you’ve learned, you force yourself to go back through all of the information you’ve gathered. The process will help you to reinforce ideas in your own mind as well as distill the information down to what’s really useful.
3. Follow Up With People You Met
You’ve most likely come back with plenty of business cards as well as new notes and contacts on your phone. Don’t let them sit for too long.
You don’t need to start blasting out emails the moment you get back to your office, but you should make an effort to follow up with new acquaintances in a timely manner. If you wait more than a couple of weeks to get in touch you run the risk of their reaction changing from, “Ah, great, it’s so-and-so…” to “Hmm…Who was this person again?” You need to act while you, your firm, and the things you talked about are still fresh in their minds.
4. Follow Through With Promises You Made
When you attend a conference you’ll undoubtedly make some promises here and there. They could be things as simple as passing along the name of a book or as complex as putting together a business proposal. No matter what promises you made, it should be a top priority to deliver on them as soon as you can.
When you show that your word means something you help solidify the new relationships you’ve acquired. You’ll instill trust in these new additions to your network and they, in turn, will be much more willing to do you a favor in the future should you ask.
5. Connect Through Social Media
It should almost go without saying in this day and age, but make sure that part of your post-conference follow-up is connecting with the people you’ve met through proper social media channels.
In addition to giving you a quick, easy way to reach out now and then, social media will allow you to indirectly keep in touch over the long-term. New members of your network won’t forget about you or your law firm so easily if they see new updates and content coming from your social media account(s).