So you went to an online marketing conference. It was packed with great info and smart people and now you’re so fired up that you can’t wait to get back to work and … do what, exactly?
It sounds simple enough to put all these new online marketing tools and tactics into practice, but conferences can be a little bit overwhelming no matter what your skill level. When most of us go to a conference, we’re seeking out sessions on topics we’re new to or less familiar with (you want to learn something, after all).
Between new subject material, long nights and trying to keep up with all the people you meet, it can be tough to come back and apply everything you’ve learned. For conference novices, the more typical aftermath is confusion.
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can use to make sure that you come back from a conference with a plan to actually apply all the new information and tactics you’ve learned. If you’re just returning from a conference, like PubCon, this article can help you move forward. And, there are a still plenty of online marketing conferences left to attend in the coming weeks:
- SES Conference & Expo, Chicago, IL; November 4-7, 2013
- SMX Social Media Marketing, Las Vegas, NV; November 20-21, 2013
- NMX/Blogworld, Las Vegas, NV; January 4-6, 2014
- South by Southwest Interactive, Austin, TX; March 7-11, 2014
Make sure your information comes back with you
Decide which conference or conferences would help you learn the most, decide who from your company should attend, and then get prepared for the overload of information you’ll be faced when you return.
Below are steps to help make sure you’re prepared and organized when you return back to the office after attending a conference.
1. Before you go
Get prepared before you leave – this will make a huge difference in your conference experience.
This means looking at the website and reading about all the possible sessions you can attend. Really consider all of your choices so you don’t have to decide quickly when you’re already there.
Look up the speakers and see what others have said about them and their sessions in the past.
It’s also a good idea to write down a few general questions you have before looking at the sessions available and then try and see what matches up.
2. Recap each session
The best time to start thinking about what your next steps will be when you arrive back to the office is directly after a session, while it’s fresh in your head (things can start to mush together after you’ve seen four sessions each day for the last three days).
Spend some time at the end of each session writing out how you can apply the information you just learned to your business.
It’s a good idea to think about this while the session is going on, too, but make sure you’re paying attention and then leave time after it’s over to really dive into some of your ideas.
3. Ask questions
Once you’ve written down a game plan for when you return, see if there is anything you’re confused about. Don’t be afraid to ask the speaker if you find holes in your takeaways.
Sessions normally allow room for questions, but once the Q&A is over you can typically still go up and talk to the speaker one-on-one about something more specific to your business. Many conferences also have designated networking periods where you can follow up with speakers.
4. Follow up online
Don’t forget that many of the slideshows you see will be available online, so you can do some re-reading if needed.
This means that while you’re listening to a speaker, you can take notes accordingly. In other words, don’t feel like you need to take notes on every little thing – focus on really absorbing what you’re hearing and take notes that aren’t on the slideshow.
When you get back to the office after the conference, revisit the slideshows as you develop a plan to apply all of your new information.
5. Take your research further
You’re not bound to the information you heard at the conference. Sessions you hear at a conference are usually not new ideas. If you have a question about how to make something work for you and the speaker didn’t answer that question at the actual conference, turn to the web and find someone who has/can answer your question.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes when you attend a session at a conference you’re going to walk out of there feeling like maybe that isn’t an approach or advice you want to take. That’s completely OK – just make sure you’re making that decision because you understood the information and determined it wasn’t right for you.
Have you ever come back from a conference and felt like you weren’t able to take what you learned and apply it to your company? What have you done to make sure you’re learning things you can really use? Let us know in the comments below.