Conference Prep and Return: Tips to Maximize Benefits

by | Health, Productivity

Maximize Benefits, Minimize Burnout

The Challenge: Conference prep, attendance, and follow-up can feel overwhelming. The good news? You can streamline this process to maximize benefits and minimize burnout.

Setting Clear Goals

Why it Matters: Goals provide direction. Whether you aim to network, learn new skills, or meet potential clients, clear goals set the stage for a productive conference.

Pro Tip: Set one overarching goal or break it down with daily focuses. Early in my career, I aimed to learn more speaking skills. Now, after 11 years in business and 14 years of speaking, I focus on networking. A win for me is walking away with one or two new insights.

Strategically Plan Your Schedule

Action Step: Review the agenda and prioritize must-attend sessions. Introverts – schedule downtime to recharge.

Pro Tip: Pre-conference connections are gold. Contact potential meetups via email or LinkedIn, but leave room for spontaneous encounters. I always plan one or two meetups before the conference starts, like a dinner or early coffee.

Packing Essentials

Must-Haves:

  • Comfortable shoes (30,000 steps a day at one conference!)
  • Jacket or sweater (conference rooms = Arctic zones)
  • Snacks, gum, mints, travel mug, water bottle

Pro Tip: Take hand warmers if you are prone to freezing and keep them in your pockets.

Staying Engaged Without Burning Out

Pace Yourself: Avoid every session and schedule breaks.

Pro Tip:

  • Plan for nights out and early mornings.
  • Eat light and eat meals that will avoid energy crashes. Choose one meal a day to splurge, and try not to eat too many high-sugar, high-carb meals at lunch so you don't hit a mid-afternoon slump.
  • Stop caffeine around 2:00 p.m. for better sleep.
Marcey and Wendy
Marcey and Wendy at the NSA Thrive Conference

Smart Networking

Focus on Quality: Aim for meaningful conversations over a race for the most business cards.

Pro Tip: Snap photos of those business cards and send them to an assistant or someone on Fiverr to organize on a spreadsheet with links to their website, LinkedIn profile, and email address. Follow up within two days.

Efficient Note-Taking

Simplify: Distill notes into three columns or pages – quotes, actions, and stories.

Pro Tip: Reflect daily and prioritize three key actions. Post-conference, look at your three items each day and narrow them down again until you have only three actions—manageable and sustainable!

Post-Conference Organization

Action Step: Upon returning, organize notes, highlight three action items, and follow up with new contacts promptly.

Pro Tip: Schedule no meetings for your first day back to integrate key takeaways and follow-up.

TedTalk
NSA Carolinas group at Thrive.

The Bottom Line:

With smart planning, energy management, and effective follow-ups, you can maximize your conference experience without burnout and have a solid plan to implement your actions.

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