Attending conferences can be exciting and exhilarating. With AAM, it’s 4-5 days of non-stop session attendance, networking, and visiting museums. You might have seen in my last post that it really can be a 14+ hour day of constant activity. Being back home this morning, it would be easy to say that I was tired and had a million e-mails to catch up on, and so could put the conference off to the side and deal with any follow-up later.
While this is a tempting path, we don’t recommend it. There are a few simple things you should do after you attend a conference, and the sooner the better.
- Go through the papers, brochures, and other swag you picked up in the Expo Hall. I’m going to be organizing things into piles based on why I was interested in these resources, so I’ll have an Education, Development, and Marketing pile when I’m done. Some of these things I’ll be passing along to co-workers, to share a little bit of the conference experience with them. Others will go into filing folders I keep full of examples, so that I have inspiration on hand when I need it.
- Go through the business cards you collected and make a plan for getting in touch with these individuals. I forgot to mention this before, but it’s strongly advised that you write how and when you met someone on the back of their business card so you don’t forget (I have at least one in my pile that I have no idea who they were, but I’ll find out!). Send them an e-mail saying that it was nice to meet them at AAM (at xyz event or program) or fun to converse with them on twitter, however you interacted with them. I also make sure to provide a gentle reminder of who I was and where I work. After e-mailing, I usually look for them on LinkedIn as well if we had a memorable conversation. Personally, I’ll be undertaking this on Monday, as today I have a few meetings at work and wouldn’t be able to focus on making the process personal and meaningful. Don’t put it off for more than a week though, as you really will start to forget the details of conversations you had.
- Write to or call the people you met who you didn’t get business cards from, if you remember who they are. I know a lot of the EMPs through attending the AAM conference, but most of them I met last year and I already had their business cards, so we didn’t trade again this year. These connections are just as important as new ones, so I’m going to be sending quick e-mails or LinkedIn messages saying it was nice to see them again and hopefully we can connect at another conference soon.
- Make a report for work or school. It was luckily very simple for me to get permission to attend AAM, and my boss did not require me to take time off. She didn’t ask me for a formal report, but I consider it polite and important to let her know my time was well spent. My report won’t be complicated, just a list of which sessions I attended and a few highlights from each, but it will give her (and my co-workers) the chance to ask questions about the things I learned or request that I follow-up with certain speakers or museum staff.
Do you have any other post-conference rituals? Something you’ve learned that works really well, or things that don’t? We’d love for you to share them in the comments.