Attending Conferences and Doing Zero Follow-Up

With InfoComm on the horizon, don’t make the mistake of skipping the follow-up to business conferences.

Daniel Newman

So you packed your bags, boarded a plane and headed off for a few days of learning bliss at an industry conference.

Finally, you took a step toward working on your business and not just in your business — a subtle yet monumental difference between the companies that thrive and those that just exist.

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to do just that. Spending three days in lovely Dallas-Fort Worth at the 16th annual NSCA Business and Leadership Conference where 300 action-oriented business leaders came to pause from their day-to-day activities and spend some time learning about what they can do to help make their businesses more customer focused and more profitable.

The content was tremendous. I think I saw one of the best keynotes ever given when Daniel Pink, author of The New York Times bestselling books Drive and To Sell Is Human, gave us a memorable 90 minutes of ideas on how to better connect with clients, customers, employees and one another. Since we are “all in sales” as he said so fondly, we might as well make the most of it.

The rest of the presenters were also great. The breakout meetings were invaluable, and perhaps the most important yet underrated time spent at the event was the time spent with one another. After a few laughs among a group where many have known each other for years, the conversations are deep. We put our boxing gloves down and break bread with the competition, sharing what is working and what is not.

When we all do our work better, it not only benefits our customers, but it improves the reputation of an entire industry. That helps everyone in the room, from manufacturer to end-user.

Great Events Require Action

Though I’m referring to a recent event, this can be any conference we attend — InfoComm, NAB or CES, or a regional leadership, employee engagement, customer service or finance training seminar. Almost every one has value that can help us perform better at our jobs or run better companies. This is why we sign up.

But how many people take the conference home with them?

This is a question I think we all need to ask ourselves. After giving up a few days or a week to attend, what actionable steps do we take?

The learning that we do at these conferences is merely temporary. It is high-value content delivered via a fire hose and we rarely absorb more than a few real nuggets unless we find a way to take the knowledge and make it last.

Ways to do this may include a recap presentation, follow-up meetings and immediate exploration of how the best information of the conference can be implemented into our businesses.

At the outset of the NSCA BLC, one attendee organization that brought five employees hosted a 2.5-hour offsite dinner to make sure their specific action items were determined before leaving the conference. I saw this as the type of proactive thinking required to make an event like the BLC count for their company over the next 12 months.

Whatever you do, if you pack your bags and put yourself and members of your team at an event, make it count. Perhaps the only thing worse than doing nothing to invest in and develop your people is spending the time and money to educate them and not taking action on what is learned.