Many of you have probably just returned from APRA's Prospect Development 2016 Conference. Hopefully, you did plenty of networking and learned a lot! Now, you're probably slogging your way through an over-full e-mail inbox, trying to figure out how much you missed and what fires are waiting for you to put them out. When you get back to the office after a conference, it's easy to become immersed in the day-to-day work again and let the conference fade into the past without making the most of your experience there. Here are some common traps that many people fall into, and some suggestions about how to avoid them.
1. DON'T stick all those business cards that you collected in a drawer until you've forgotten who any of those people were. When you get back to the office, after you've plowed through that inbox (or even before), send a brief note to the people you met, just to reinforce that connection. Did you collect a lot of vendor business cards even though you aren't responsible for purchasing decisions? Hand those cards over to someone who does have that responsibility, along with any thoughts about which products and services you found particularly interesting.
2. DON'T keep all that knowledge to yourself! In most offices, it's hard to send everyone to a conference, especially if it's one that's distant from your organization. Having a conference debrief meeting with your colleagues is a great way to share the things you've learned, get others' perspectives on it, and work new techniques, resources, and procedures into your everyday operations. Bring your notes, and share useful presentation printouts. Just because the whole office couldn't attend the conference, it doesn't mean that everyone can't benefit from those who did attend.
3. DON'T neglect to fill out any post-conference surveys. As a member of the NEDRA board, I can assure you that the responses an organization gets to these surveys are the best tool we have for gauging how to best serve our members and plan an even better conference for the following year. What speakers were particularly good? How was the session variety? Were there times when it was difficult or impossible to obtain that life-giving substance, caffeine? How easy to use were the apps or online resources? Did you like the location? All of this feedback is invaluable to conference planners, and helps ensure that future conferences will be equally, if not more, educational and enjoyable.
© 2018 New England Development Research Association