Getting a Handle on Post-Conference Overload
October 20, 2010 NOTE: I wrote this post after last year’s BOLO, but it’s still plenty relevant as I sit down to go through pages of notes and a thick pile of business cards. Links and tags updated.
I just got back to my office after the excellent BOLO2010 conference here in Phoenix. (My sympathy to all the great peeps I met there who are still sitting at the airport or on a 5- or 6-hour flight home.) Like so many people I spoke to at the conference, I now have a stack of materials, a pad full of notes, and an exploded brain. What to do with all this stuff? What to do first?
Here’s my plan, laid out as a general approach that could be used after any conference.
- Connect – No doubt you traded business cards throughout the conference. I like to jot notes on each card I receive about my conversation with that person. So your first step is to connect online with all of those people. Send LinkedIn invitations to everyone you met (choose the Friend option for “how do you know this person?”, there’s no verification required for that one). Search for and follow them on Twitter. Depending on your Facebook strategy, friend them there. Wherever you’re connecting, include a personal note about your conference conversations to refresh their memory and “make you human.”
- Communicate – I hope you were tweeting and blogging throughout the conference, but it’s not too late to start. Shoot out some informative posts about what you learned, who you met, who impressed you. Link to other people, blogs, and websites. Use the conference hashtag (for BOLO, it’s #BOLO2010.) Don’t overdo it, make sure it’s relevant, be useful. Don’t forget to thank the people who worked so hard to put on the conference.
- Research – Get one sheet of paper and a pen. Go through your notes and materials and list the most important things you want to learn more about – websites to check out, white papers to download, tools to sign up for free trials, questions or terms to clarify with a Google search. (I mark them with stars or exclamation marks or question marks while I’m taking notes so I can find them quickly later.) Only grab the ones that really jump out at you, and keep it to less than that one sheet.Now rank them. I use a simple, two-criteria scale: How easy is this from 1 – 3 (where 3 is super easy) and what’s the potential impact from 1 – 3 (where 3 is super impactful)? Multiply the two numbers for each item, and you have a quick guide to where to start: Do 9s first, then 8s, and so on.
- Plan – Research done? Grab another sheet of paper, and list the action items. Don’t edit, just go through your thoughts, your notes, and your materials and list each thing you took away from the conference that you want to implement. Then apply the same two-criteria scale from above to rank your desired actions.
- Act – Delegate what you can, and begin to implement your list. Seize the day.
Sure, there’s plenty more to do, but this is just to get you started, just to get you out from under the crippling information overload and analysis paralysis.
What are you doing to get the wheels turning after BOLO2010?
Sounds like a great approach to processing post event information.
Excellent suggestions, Ed. I usually good at #1 and #2, but then tend to jump right to #5. It’s a character flaw, I know. Thanks for a light to guide the way.
Ed, this was really helpful. I really like #1 on the biz card suggestion. I got many biz cards from the BOLO event and did not do that for a few people so now that this is still fresh in my mind I am going to do that. You can connect with me at http://www.twitter.com/jayfeitlinger for those I did not get to meet.
Glad you found this helpful, guys. Sorry I missed Fred and Jay at the conference, but we’re all LinkedIn and Tweeting now, so I’ll catch you at some event soon.
Thank you for the kick-in the pants and process I needed to follow through. Had so many great conversations at Bolo with people worth staying in touch with! I can be found on twitter @1Tap and easy to find on LinkedIn ….
I appreciate your process for dealing with all overwhelming information we received at the conference. It is really applicable to processing any and all networking information. Thanks Ed.