Post-Conference Recovery and Re-Entry

Whether you’ve just returned from a big conference as an attendee, exhibitor, or staffer, there’s always a need for some down time to not only rest but also to digest everything you’ve learned. How do you make sure this happens?

So it’s a little more than a week since I returned from ASAE’s 2013 Annual Meeting & Expo, and I can say I have pretty much recovered. As an association staffer, whether you’re in the meetings department or not, all the work that happens before the conference can be just as exhausting as the work and networking that takes place onsite. And then once it’s over, all the stress related to the meeting leaves, and, well, it’s time to get back to your regular routine, right? Well, yes and no. While it’s pretty much guaranteed you have work to get back to no matter whether you were a staffer, attendee, or exhibitor, it’s just as important to relax, reflect and share, and follow-up on what took place at the meeting or convention.

Make sure to take the time to reflect on everything you learned.

Relax. For association staff who helped to execute the meeting, particularly one that spans a few days, it’s likely they receive a comp day or two. Take advantage of it—and be sure to unplug. As Katie Bascuas blogged about earlier this week, while 60 percent of U.S. employees check email or take a work-related phone call while on vacation, research suggests that taking time off provides benefits not only to your health but also your ability to problem solve and innovate. This break time may be less likely to happen for meeting attendees or exhibitors, but you may want to unplug for a weekend or perhaps half a day once you return.

Reflect and share. As an attendee, you attended a number of different education sessions and related events, and as an exhibitor, you were able to talk to current and future customers about the problems they’re facing and other trends they’re seeing. Make sure to take the time to reflect on everything you learned so you don’t forget. If you took notes or tweeted during the meeting, look back on those. You could put together a list of takeaways from the meeting, write down ideas you want to try out at your own organization, or create a document that shows the top issues visitors to your booth said they were dealing with.  And then be sure to share the knowledge you gained—whether with your colleagues at the office, your clients, or your social media network.

Follow up. Now that you’ve had time to relax and reflect—and presumably so have all the new people you met at the meeting, begin to follow up with these new contacts. Connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, or send a short email thanking them for their time. You could also set up a time to meet up with your new conference friends and talk through some of what you learned or put into action since the meeting ended. It doesn’t matter how you do it; what matters is that you start to form these relationships and build your professional network.

As for me, I’ll do bit more relaxing to get back to 100 percent by taking advantage of some comp time next week, which will likely include a mix of napping, sitting by a pool, and catching up on my relatively full DVR. What’s your post-conference routine? Please share in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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