Travelling to my first European speaking engagement in Slovakia really opened my eyes to the benefits of being a 'Conference Guerilla'. I was travelling almost 14,000 km in the space of 4 days to speak for approximately one and a half hours. Just like when going on vacation, I tried to clear the decks before I went. In the end a few things had to get left unfinished and I had to accept that.
It was most important to me to ensure that everything was taken care of back home. This was key to being able to focus on the conference and my wonderful girlfriend really stepped up and took on the responsibility for my two kids. I am really grateful because I knew they were in good hands.
There are three distinct phases of conferences – Pre, During and After. In ‘How to be a Conference Guerrilla – Part 1’, we looked at the pre-Conference activities and in ‘How to be a Conference Guerrilla - Part 2’ we discussed optimizing the time while at the conference.
Overall I felt that Pre & During I did a fairly good job. What I tend to find though is that once I return home, it can all start to fall apart.
So what happens once you get back home or to the office?
Well if you are anything like me you probably dread the unanswered messages and emails. The temptation is to say “I will put the conference follow up to the side and get to it tomorrow” and then often tomorrow never comes.
The leads can go cold, the memory fade and after time the investment you made in the conference might look like a poor choice. Yes, you may have gained some fresh insights, and had the chance to enjoy a new city or country, but remember in Part 1 you had set some specific goals and outcomes. There was good reason to do this, so that now, in getting back to time crunched reality, you can remain focused on realizing and measuring that investment.
FIVE actions to Take Post Conference
1. Follow up
Hopefully, as suggested in Part 2, you were completing some conference follow up during the ‘back of the room downtime’. Upon arrival home, try to block time in your calendar each day until everything is completed.
- Prioritize – make sure you are getting the more important actions and follow ups done first. Quickly review all the follow-ups needed and set them in or priority
- E-mail everyone that you intend to remain connected to with a note saying how you enjoyed meeting them and then personalize each message with whatever you had discussed, agreed to share or next steps.
- Connect and invite with those you met on the social network of choice, for many that might be LinkedIn. Whichever network, ensure it is where they spend most of their time instead of forcing them to connect where you are.
Chances are you may not have had the opportunity to physically meet everyone that you had hoped to, or you find out after the event that someone you did want to meet was there and you didn’t get a chance to connect. Connect with them now. Send an email or social media invite, again with a personalized note, saying sorry that we did not get the chance to meet, ask what was their favourite part of the conference, or share with them a nugget or two you experienced and ask their opinion. Start a dialogue.
3. Social Media
Check in on the conference hashtag to see if conversations are still going on that you can join and add value. This is another opportunity to tag and connect with those you did not get a chance to meet but want to start a relationship. Share useful information you discovered, links back to speakers and their work etc. Also upload any photos you took, and tag people where you can. Consider creating a separate album and sharing it with people in your follow up messages. Consider writing reviews of the venue, hotel and any restaurants you went to.
Many people may have wanted to go to the same conference but for numerous reasons did not make it. They may be interested in reading about it afterward. Here is an opportunity for you to publish a review of the event or specific sessions and raise your profile. Alternatively you could reach out to your new connections and ask them for one or two line reviews with their thoughts and publish that as a compilation. This is another great way to tag speakers.
Last year I attended Tweetstock, and actually ended up speaking there this year myself. Many of the sessions had great information and insights that I knew were relevant to personal branding and that I thought my ezine, blog readers and social media followers might find useful. It resulted in a series of articles over several weeks with over 1,000 people reading them online, with well over 50 likes and a dozen or so comments.
5. Return on Investment
Now the rubber really hits the road. Was it all worth it? Take the time to review your goals and objectives for attending in the first place. How did your results measure up and did you get the value you expected? You will want to go back and review again in perhaps 90 days as some of the outcomes and results may take a little longer to come to fruition.
Also consider if this is a conference worth attending by you or by others in your company. If so, set a reminder to book next year. See if there are similar conferences that might also be worth considering for the future and your new connnections may have some thoughts on that too.
Bottom line is that spending on conferences is an expense that can affect the bottom line positively or negatively With some planning and focus it will add positively to your business as well as your personal brand.
I am always on the lookout for future events to go to so which conference has been a good investment for you?