Maximize the impact of your conference experience
The conference is over, your suitcase is waiting to be unpacked, hundreds of emails need to be read or deleted, piles of “real” mail need to be recycled, bags of expo swag are likely to sit untouched for months, and notes from sessions and meetings may be ignored until it is time to enter your continuing education credits online.
Was it worth it?
Attending a conference has numerous benefits – visiting new places, sharing knowledge and ideas, connecting with colleagues, and ideally renewing oneself personally and professionally. When it’s over the wise traveler builds in some margin to recover before resuming the pace of work and home responsibilities. But, the true measure of a conference lies in its lasting impact. How can you avoid the tendency to do nothing of lasting value with your conference experience and instead maximize its impact? With a few intentional steps…
Make time to reflect and plan…
Ideally, take some time during the conference to keep track of your key take-aways, determine the follow-up to take, and schedule action steps in your calendar. If not during the conference, take advantage of your trip home to organize your thoughts, notes, and business cards. Finally, the next best opportunity is to set aside one or more times in the days or weeks following the conference to strategize ways to maximize the impact of your experience.
Prioritize your follow-up…
Reflect on your conference experience and ask yourself what made the greatest impact: What was your biggest epiphany – an “aha” moment of learning you want to remember or need to implement? Who did you meet that you need to continue a conversation to achieve common goals? What experience was most meaningful?
Make a short list and prioritize what to tackle first, second, and third. Put action steps in your calendar. Even doing one thing can make a big difference.
Don’t underestimate the value of one new idea, one new contact, or one new approach to delivering your services or messages. Large conferences can be overwhelming and the benefits can be lost in the noise of sheer overload. If you purposefully planned ahead to select sessions, events, networking opportunities, and exhibits in a focused and thoughtful manner you will be in a great position to take action on your experiences.
Maximize the impact…
A presenter’s greatest desire is for participants to apply the content they shared. Be that participant. Share what you learned in an upcoming lecture or presentation, a blog post, or in conversations with patients, clients, or colleagues. Look up a study or resource mentioned in a talk. Put your new knowledge into practice.
Reach out to the people you met. Follow-up and make good on commitments.
Express appreciation to those who provided excellent conference experiences. Organizers and speakers appreciate heartfelt acknowledgement. Be willing to have your testimony serve as social proof to others who could benefit.
Did you identify any useful resources or products at the Expo? Exhibitors spend a fortune to build awareness. If something could benefit your practice, seek out more information.
Plan ahead to maximize your next conference experience…
Submit a proposal to present a session or a poster.
Sign up to serve on a committee to plan a networking event.
Plan ahead to maximize your experience both during the event and once it is over.
What is my FNCE conference follow-up?
I plan to work with others to submit a proposal to FNCE 2019 to speak on a communication topic; follow-up a meeting to create a series of webinars; learn more about podcasting by being a guest on one or more podcasts; work with our alumni network to organize a Purdue gathering; and work with my Academy coauthors to promote the Academy Guide to Nutrition Communication, which will be nearing publication. I better get started!
What is your conference follow-up? How do you want to maximize the impact of your experience? Share in the comments.
“Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” ~ Francis Bacon
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