We all go to these conference events with high hopes and a nervous stomach – and some of these events can seem like a blur – so many people, so many sessions, so many – oh, good grief – so many drinks, so many really good tidbits that can help you with whatever problem or challenge you face. Afterwards, though, it can feel like a bit of a drag – the exhaustion, the overwhelming sense of what has happened, and what you have to do next to get where you want to go with your business, career, life, etc. Here are a couple of tips that I’ve developed over the last several conferences I’ve been fortunate enough to attend.
1) Rest, refresh, rehydrate.
We spend so much time darting from one session to another, or sipping cuppas in the breaks, or drinking at the social networking events, and cram so much into the limited time we have at these conferences, making sure we see/talk/pitch/network etc., that our bodies deplete in both energy and hydration. Get the rest, get refreshed, and rehydrate – that will put you in the best position to harness all that motivation, insight and advice you gained through your experience and direct it to something that is productive.
2) Email your new contacts.
Whether it was at the buffet, in the lift, or sitting next to each other in a workshop or discussion – hopefully you made at least a couple of new contacts. If you can remember their names, chances are you can find them on the internet. Send them a friendly wave through cyber-space (no stalking allowed). It doesn’t have to be much, something along the lines of ‘I really enjoyed meeting you…’ can make a major positive impact on the other person, but it also builds on the networking foundation you established at the conference. Follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook – if they’ll let you and don’t think you’re a stalker – these people could become your strongest friends, and your best communication network and brains trust. Also, keep an eye on any social media channel that discusses the event you attended, and feel free to add your comments to the conversation.
3) Go through your notes.
If necessary, type up all of those handwritten scribbles you call notes and try to put them into some sort of order. Go through the program and check over any notes you’ve written for the sessions you attended. Organise them into some sort of logical notebook – or perhaps just a point-form takeaway list. Not only is it neater and easier to find, but it has the added bonus of reaffirming those points you so wanted to remember.
4) Make plans.
So you’re all fired up – you’re rested, you’re refreshed, you’re rehydrated, you’ve established contact with new friends and you’ve organised your notes… and you’re itching to get back to work. What stood out from the conference that makes you want to DO? If you’re really lucky, there were a number of great take-aways from the conference. Make a list, prioritise, but write down your action plan. Those who write down their goals are 33% more likely to achieve them.
Do it the S.M.A.R.T. way – make your plans specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
S.M.A.R.T. Goal Examples:
I will finish my 70,000 word manuscript by December and submit to XXX editor at XXX publisher.
I will tweet once a minimum of once every workday, and run a contest to build my following by an extra 10% by January 2015.
I will have my website up and running by November 1st in time for Nanowrimo.
You get the idea. Don’t forget to take stock in a few months to assess who you are doing with your goals.
5) Deliver on your promises.
If you made any kind of overture or promise – e.g.; yes, I will send you the partial manuscript, Madame Editor – then DO it. If you promised to send someone the notes you took of a particular session – then DO it. If you promised yourself to set up a savings account so that you can start your next year’s conference fund, then DO it. And – bless your soul – if you decided to volunteer for any role in the organisation, then DO it.
Attending a conference can be exhausting and exhilarating – and expensive. Make sure you get a return on your considerable investment by taking something away from the conference and USING it. Whether it’s a new way to approach a task, a new friend who is in exactly the same position as you, perhaps even a valuable mentor – these aren’t just social occasions, these are your opportunities to build the future you dream of.
I’m completely normal. Seriously. Statistically, a whopping 75% will still be sticking to our New Year’s resolution by 14th Jan. Alas, by 1st June that number drops to 46%. I’ve almost gotten to the stage of making a resolution with the expectation of breaking that resolution by March. At the latest.
Let’s take a look at my last year’s resolutions (cringe!):
Drop 4 dress sizes and be fit and fabulous.
– Didn’t quite work out. As in, I didn’t quite work out.
– Actually, this one kind of worked. My first book, Viper’s Kiss, was released July 25, 2011, and my second book will be coming out May 2012 – but was accepted for publication within 2011.
Finish my middle grade fiction.
– Did that. Have learned there is a big step between finishing a book, and getting it published – which leads me to the purpose of this post – S.M.A.R.T. GOALS.
I’ve actually presented on this very topic with my fabulous critique group, the Writer’s Coven, and kick myself that I haven’t used the same philosophy in my New Year’s Resolutions. Well, this year, I will.
Specific – no generalisations, be specific about what you want to achieve, when and how.
Measurable – when you’re specific, you can see whether you achieve your goal, or not.
Achievable – within your control. Your goal can’t rely on another’s actions to be achieved.
Realistic – within the bounds of reality. Don’t set yourself up for failure with an unrealistic goal.
Time-bound – put a limit on your goal, so that you can measure your success. No use saying you want to give up smoking, by whenever. Whenever never comes.
Finish writing and submitting two more romantic suspense novels by Dec 31st 2012.
Complete and submit two novellas by Oct 31st 2012.
Plot out a trilogy, and start writing Book 1 by Nov 1st 2012.
Create a personal timetable by Feb 20th 2012 to better organise the home life.
Lose 15kgs by July 1st 2012.
Read 3 fiction books that have nothing to do with my writing, purely for enjoyment, by Dec 31st 2012.
Have a date night each month with my husband.
What are your goals?