How often have you returned from a conference or training seminar with a notebook full of ideas, intentions, and new contacts only to immediately get sucked back into the work vortex at the expense of everything in the notebook?
It happens to everyone, all the time. Good conferences can shoot you full of energy and renew your spirit. But, it’s really, really hard to maintain that energy when you return to work. It doesn’t have to be this way. But, the only person who can change the cycle is you. You have to make a commitment to yourself and your organization that you won’t let allow this investment of time and money to be wasted.
Here are few things I have found work for me, perhaps they will work for you.
- When you schedule to attend a conference, block out several hours (maybe even half a day) on your calendar the morning after you return from a conference and call it “Conference Follow Up/Debrief.” This helps to ensure that you have time when you get back to the office to process the experience and take some immediate steps to capitalize on the momentum from the conference.
- During this time, send follow up emails and social network connection requests to all of the people you met at the conference. The follow up is just to ensure that you solidify the connection, share contact information and perhaps create an expectation of connecting again in the future.
- Either on your way home from the conference or in this time you set aside once you are back, go through your notes and make a list of the most important things you learned or ideas that were sparked throughout the conference. This list can be as long as it needs to be.
- Chose one thing on your list to take action on immediately. It doesn’t have to be huge, but chose something that can have some immediate impact.
- Identify up to 3 more things on your list that you will commit to take action on in the next 30 days.
- Type these four things into a document. At the top, it should say: “I commit to doing these things in the next 30 days.” Print this document and either hang it up in your office (most effective) or put it into a drawer on your desk where you will have to look at it frequently.
- Share this document with someone else in your office or your network who you respect and trust. Ask them to follow up with you in 30 days to see if you completed the things on the list.
- Schedule a 30 minute appointment in your calendar for 90 days from the day you return from the conference. The meeting should be titled: “Review xyz Conference/Training Session Notes.” This will remind you to pull out your notes and look through them again, creating another opportunity to capture some of the energy of the experience again and to perhaps find some new things you could implement.