January 30, 2017
How to: Follow Up After Attending a Conference
It's been a week since Inman Connect - one of the top conferences for real estate technology. To no surprise, while there's amazing content on stage, the main attraction is the conversations.
But the real work of a conference is after.
We know that the moment you land back home, you have four days of emails to catch up, family that hasn't seen you, and day-to-day work that needs to be attended to. It takes a real strategy to ensure that your investment into attending the conference and taking dozens of meetings doesn't go to waste. Here's the strategy that I've implemented.
How to follow up after a conference:
During and immediately after the conference
Have a notebook or open note-taking application. I open a single note in Evernote, and use my iPad instead of a laptop for battery life. It's important to capture raw, stream-of-consciousness notes. Everyone you talked to. Everything you talked about. Anything that comes to mind - don't worry about formatting or anything else.
Immediately after the conference
On the trip home, spend a couple hours going through, and cleaning up and organizing your notes. I separate it into a few sections:
- Next steps
- Key learnings
- Meeting details
- Session notes
The whole idea is that as you're cleaning up, reading and re-reading the notes from all of your meetings and conference sessions, you summarize the most salient points that you'd like to take with you, and then put action items into place. These items can include everything from emails you want to send out to people, to follow-ups or information you promised to folks you connected with. Now you've done something really powerful - you've separated out strategy from action. From here on out, it's just a matter of acting on the tasks that you've laid out - which you can copy into your task manager.
You have one of two choices now - you can either block off a few hours, or you can hand it off to a virtual assistant to act on it. This is an example of where a virtual assistant can come in handy for your relationship marketing tasks. I was able to hand ten pages of notes to our VA and she was able to act on them quickly.
For everyone you met
Execute on these ideally a week or two after the conference (not during the conference, as you'll get lost in the sea of emails that have been building up)
- If nothing else - say it was great to connect with them in person. In the least, this serves as a reminder to both of you of your meeting (Contactually will pick this up of course).
- List out the follow up actions that you plan to take, and the asks from them as well.
- Finally, set a reminder for yourself to follow up on those actions. This is where having a digital task manager, something we talked about in the EPIC2017 strategy guide, can really help!
Other suggested actions:
- Make sure to bucket everyone you've met. That way Contactually can help you keep track of, and stay in touch with, everyone you met with. You can also tag everyone that you met with a single tag, so you can easily pull up later on everyone you met.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Depending on how "social" you are, friend your new contacts on Facebook. I've also seen a successful trend recently of making a single post on Facebook about your trip and key takeaways (which you wrote above!) and tagging everyone that you met with. That creates a little bit of community among everyone you met.
Conferences are most successful when you realize that the vast majority of work is done before and after the show. Good luck!