Want to Actually Apply What You Learn at a Conference? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

apply what you learn at a conference

You shell out a few hundred dollars (or if you’re lucky, you successfully get your employer to cover the expense) for a conference and you’re super excited to attend. During the conference, you take a ton of notes (maybe you even tweet out a few good quotes?) but by the next day, those notes are simply buried in a notebook never to be looked at again.

Sound familiar?

Truth is, without deliberately making an action plan, what you learn at a conference will never actually be used and you won’t get a return on your investment – whether that’s time or money.

Want to apply your learnings from every conference you attend? Here are 4 questions you should ask yourself immediately afterwards:

What are the key themes/topics that were discussed and how do they apply to my current or future work, ideas or goals?

Go through your notes and find the themes that serve as a common thread between everything that you heard. Highlight key insights or quotes that really stood out to you and then take a moment to reflect on how they could be applied to something you’re working on now or in the future. For example, is there a new tool, approach or problem-solving technique that could be applied to a campaign you’re working on, a new product you want to launch or perhaps your current job search?

What do I still need to learn more about?

Was there something mentioned by one of the speakers (or even someone you met at the conference!) that piqued your interest? Perhaps there was a book, website, business strategy and/or productivity tool that was quickly thrown out there? Take some time to do any additional research so that you can immediately decipher whether it’s useful to you – or someone in your network.

Who do I know that would find value in this content?
That being said, sharing what you’ve learned at a conference is a great way to provide value to those in your network. Did you learn about a tool that could be useful for a former colleague and/or professional acquaintance? Send them a quick note via email or Linkedin to share it with them! If you haven’t talked to them in a little while, this is the perfect opportunity for you to re-connect in a unique way and you’ll stay top of mind! Remember, you always want to find genuine ways to build and maintain your network before you need it. Small actions that you make can pay off in a big way – especially when you really need it.  

What content can I create around what I’ve learned and how can I best share it?
You know the saying “A Sunday well spent brings a week’s worth of content?” The same can be said for attending a conference. From photos to inspiring quotes, you’re able to create numerous weeks worth of content that you can share across your social platforms to enhance your personal brand.

Of course, this requires planning ahead so here’s a breakdown of what you should do before, during and after:

Before the conference

Review the speaker list. If you know that you’ll be active on social media during the conference (which you should be!), take some time to follow the speakers before you attend. This is especially helpful as during the event, you won’t be scrambling to find their social handle to tag them in a tweet or another type of social media post.

Brainstorm content topics. Thinking ahead of time about the types of written and/or video posts you would like to create will ensure that you collect all of the information you need. Here are a few suggested topics:
– A full event review (you can cover what you learned, what you enjoyed most, any potential suggestions for improvement and what was included in the swag bag, if applicable)
– A roundup of inspiring quotes from the conference
– A personal reflection on how the conference impacted you

During the conference

Take notes! Be sure to bring a laptop and/or notebook and pen to capture quotes, key points and any interesting insights. As you get ideas for your post-conference content, write them down right away as it will be harder to remember them afterwards.

Take lots of photos! You can also go through them later and delete ones you don’t need but it’s better to have lots to choose from for your content. (It’s also highly recommended that you bring a portable charger with you as your battery will likely get low very quickly from all the photos and social media use!)

Let your network know that you’re there! Use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin to share highlights from your day- just make sure you always include the conference hashtag! Not only will you be able to connect with your fellow attendees but you’ll also notice engagement from people who were unable to attend but are interested in following along. Want to see how much your social media activity during the conference compares to other attendees? Use a free hashtag measurement tool like Tweetbinder to see how you stack up.

After the conference

Time to start creating your content! Here are a few channels you can consider:
– LinkedIn article and/or status update
– Blogpost
– Medium post
– YouTube video
– Podcast recording
– Slideshare
– Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts (quotes, photos of the venue, photos of you at the conference and of course, sharing links to your written and/or video content)

In essence, conferences are not only a great way to learn and connect with other people but they provide the opportunity to create valuable content. Be intentional about sharing that value with others (and of course, applying it to your own life) and you’ll find it will make your time and money investment completely worth it.

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