By Alan Shoebridge
Continuous learning and professional development are crucial to career success. However, taking the time to learn in between emails, calls, meetings and countless other daily distractions is extremely challenging.
Attending a conference in person removes you from many typical distractions and commitments and provides an ideal opportunity for learning. Your primary task is to be present and absorb information. So how can you make the most of what you learned and ensure it sticks with you after you return home? Here are four strategies I have used successfully and am currently working through after attending this year's SHSMD Connections in Nashville.
Read the recaps
Good conferences generate passionate, insightful blog posts and articles from attendees. The Connections conference generated more than a dozen useful event summaries. Reading conference recaps helps you remember the most important points and exposes you to new ideas that you may have missed in sessions you didn't attend or had to step our to deal with something at work.
Take a look at the event's Twitter hashtag and conference app feed as well. These also offer some useful insights and they generally stay available until the next year's event.
Create a personal content bank
Most conferences make the slide presentations available during and after the event. On the last day of a conference I take a brief run through of all the presentation titles and open any that look interesting to me. I save five to ten that I feel provide solid information or spark an idea for testing and then work through them in the weeks following the conference. Not all slide decks provide useful information without context from the speakers but I think you'll be surprised by how many we do.
Schedule follow-ups quickly
If you met vendors or new colleagues whom you clicked with during the conference, schedule any phone calls, product demos or follow-up meetings ASAP. Waiting increases the likelihood that you will forget about why you wanted to do it in the first place or simply miss out on the opportunity until next year.
Share you knowledge
Hosting a department lunch and learn session to review key takeaways, sending your favorite event recaps to staff and peers and sharing a conference summary for your boss and other leaders are just a few ways to keep what you learned front and center in your own mind. You can also show one of the conference presentations during a meeting to dig into more detail in specific topics. You'll also help demonstrate the value of attending the conference and set expectations for strategies that you plan to implement or explore.
Attending a conference is a major investment of your personal time and your organization's resources. Making the most out of what you learned will keep the momentum going until next year rolls around. See you in Chicago!
This blog was written by:
Director of Marketing
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System