How to deal with post-conference overload

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Last week I returned from a conference, which put me into my usual state of post-conference overload. My bag was busting with business cards; the conference agenda and my notebook were filled with notes I must have thought important at the time I scribbled them; and a tsunami of to-dos had landed on my desk and in my inbox. I spent my first day back trying to process what I learned at the conference while muddling through the rest of my work. I started thinking about what I'd tell myself if I wanted to make the most out of my conference experience. Here's what I came up with:

1. Try to have a light schedule on your first day back. {This is really something you need to do before the conference to make your life easier afterwards. Because I violated this rule, I lost nearly a full Saturday playing catch up.} If you can keep at least the morning blocked off for conference follow-up, you'll have the best chance of doing the other things on this list. The more time that passes after the conference, the less likely you'll be to actually do the follow-up, connecting, and reflecting you should do.

2. Do something with the stack of business cards. At the very least, write something on them that will jog your memory of who the person is. After years of collecting business cards, I've finally accepted the fact that I won't take the time to input contact information for most of them into my various address/email systems. That said, connecting with people on Facebook or LinkedIn takes almost no time and assures that you can find the people you want to keep track when you need them. I learned this from my cousin Jennine whom I stayed with while at my conference. She had just returned from an adventure travel conference and was linking up with all her new connections online. With each invitation, she included a note to jog the person's memory of how they met. Connecting on LinkedIn also helps if you're trying to find someone months after the conference since it allows you to search by keyword in addition to name. (Hat tip to Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces for that handy tip.)

3. Review your notes before too much time passes or else they won't make any sense. I usually write notes on the conference agenda and in a notebook -- a combination of books to read, people to connect with online or follow on Twitter, introductions to make. On the plane home, I decided to read through all of them and distill them into one coherent list. I'm giving myself a gold star here. This is the one thing I did that helped me to feel organized when I started to work the next morning.

4. Ask yourself if there is anything you want to change about the way you work as a result of the conference. Did any of the speakers convince you to learn a new skill or incorporate a new tool into your work? The farther you get from it, the less you'll remember.

5. Follow up with people. Did you say you were going to make an introduction, forward someone's material, call someone? Is there anyone you want to thank? Drop a quick email or better yet, a hand-written note. These days, you can even do some of this in a public way. If you were really moved or impressed by a speaker's talk, give a shout out on Twitter (or on the person's Facebook page if you're Facebook friends).

6. Consider blogging about the conference. Blogging about a conference is a great way to spread ideas, to document what happened for people who weren't there, and even to ensure that you remember what hit you from the conference. Career coach and radio host Maggie Mistal also points out that blogging a conference is a great way to let other people in your circle know about the conference so they can consider going in the future.

Anything I left out?