Fun fact about yours truly: I have the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors for my local chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD – formerly ASTD). Last week, I was able to attend the organization’s annual Chapter Leaders Conference (ALC), where I was also able to present a session. The conference, in a word, was fantastic. Our team walked away with so many ideas and plans to grow and progress our chapter…so many ideas, in fact, that it’s a bit overwhelming now that I’ve been back home for a few days.
Have you ever been to a conference, workshop or other event like that?
How do you harness that positive energy when you return to the hustle-bustle of the routines and responsibilities in the real world?
Well, here are three strategies to try:
1. Follow the backchannel.
Most conferences and events have a dedicated hashtag to categorize tweets and tweeters. This is a valuable resource to not only engage in the online conversation that is running in tandem throughout the live event, but you can favorite, retweet and curate your favorite ideas and resources to review and access afterward.
2. Connect with attendees.
Nowadays, it’s not just about collecting business cards to stuff in your Rolodex and forget about. Use the business cards to connect with like-minded people, session presenters and other interesting people via LinkedIn, Twitter, email and other channels. Follow up with questions. Continue conversations. Share resources. Hop on a Skype call to share ideas over a cup of coffee. If you’re lucky enough to be geographically close, actually meet up in person for that cup of coffee!
3. Put your notes and ideas in an obvious, accessible place.
For me, it’s my Moleskine notebook. If it’s in my notebook, then it goes with me just about everywhere. For you, whether it’s a Moleskine or Evernote (or whatever your notetaking tool/app of choice might be), use it when inspiration strikes. Make a to-do list with your action items – I typically don’t take a lot of notes in the conference-provided booklet/agenda, because I don’t always have that handy after the event. If it’s something I want to explore post-conference, I need to put it in a place I know I’ll look at it.
Several months ago, I wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about how to have a bad time at a conference. After last week’s ATD event, I can say the same ideas hold true. You get what you put into it, folks. If you are fortunate enough to be able to attend conferences – even every once in awhile – then take advantage of the opportunity to learn, grow professionally and connect with others in your industry. What a privilege that is!
Your turn: How do you get the most out of conferences and workshops? How do you apply what you’ve learned (and keep the inspiration alive!) after the event? Share your ideas in the comments below!
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