Apologies if this is a little late. I’ve been doing conference follow-up on my TVIW experience. Conference follow-up? What the heck is that? Allow me to explain.
You might think that once you’re back from a business conference, that recovering and getting back to work is all you do. Not so fast! You’re missing out on some of the important aspects of business travel.
First, of course, you need to fill out your travel/trip report, accounting for the company money you spent and what you learned during the trip.
And while it might be great to remember the hallway conversations and the free-time social events you attended, but how much value did you get out of the con? That is how you justified the trip, after all, right? That trip report is supposed to log what you learned as well as any potential business partnerships you might have cultivated. So the next question becomes: are you going to do anything about them?
Following up with people
Cultivating relationships can be as simple as emailing everyone you collected a business card from and thanking them for speaking with you. Sometimes it’s a good idea to write something on the back of their card during the trip before you forget who they are (not necessarily in front of them–different people have different ideas of what’s considered polite in the treatment of business cards). But making notes can help you recall what you spoke with that person about, which can also help you clarify what you want to say in your follow-up message after the con.
Following up with your learning
I was one of those kids in school who was more interested in what the teachers said than my peers, which won me all sorts of awkward attention, but the habit stuck. I pay attention to the speakers at cons. That is why you’re there and how you justified the trip to your employer, so it behooves you to pay attention to the actual content.
Following up on learning could take many forms. Perhaps you bought a book or two from the vendors’ room or a speaker’s book signing. Perhaps a speaker handed out brochures or referred participants to a paper they wrote.
And while you’re at it, make an effort to apply what you learned at the conference, however constituted. Learning from your business travel experiences and doing different things based on your learning is how you can ensure that you’re adding value to your employers after a business trip but also making the trip more valuable for you.