Keep the Conference Alive

I can’t believe a month has passed since ASSE’s Safety 2016! Last week, the deadline for speaking proposals passed for Safety 2017. So naturally, I’m looking ahead to the next conference season.

Personally, I have chosen to focus on local and regional events with the exception of ASSE’s Safety 2017. This past spring turned into an absolute whirlwind, and while I wouldn’t change a thing, I am applying some lessons learned going forward.


My daughter modeling all of the conference badges and lanyards I earned so far in 2016.

In the spirit of lessons learned, I know how it feels to work day to day for an employer, experience the rush and excitement of a national conference, only to return back to my daily grind. The enthusiasm usually wanes in the first week after returning to work unless I have deliberately set up an action plan. Here’s some thoughts on how you can keep the conference alive – whether it was ASSE’s Safety 2016 last month, an event from earlier this year, or something you’re looking forward to (maybe NSC in Anaheim?)

1. Formulate a plan.

Most large conferences, and even some local or regional events, have an app. As soon as an event I’m attending launches an app, I download it and start navigating it. Do not wait until you’re at the event to download the app! This allows you to plan what sessions you want to attend and which booths you want to stop by. Manage your time, maximize your connections!

2. Take notes.

I don’t care how you take notes, just be prepared. I’m half generation X and half Millennial. I still take written notes in a Moleskine notebook! Depending on the event, I will refer to that notebook each night at my hotel room, crossing off notes as I send emails, bookmark websites, and make connections in other ways.

3. Set your intention.

Your employer is probably footing the bill for your conference attendance – so one of your goals should be to identify resources for your company’s safety program. If you can narrow this focus to specific programs or initiatives you’re working on, even better!

Even though your employer is paying your way, it is still important to identify some personal and career growth goals. List the people and companies you want to connect with while at the event, then make it happen by using the conference app to put yourself in the right places.

4. Download.

When you return to your office, go through the business cards you’ve collected. Send emails right away to get the ball rolling on connections you’ve made. If you promised you’d send a resource, send it!

Take another look at your notes, whether they’re on your tablet or in your notebook – make an action item list. Assign deadlines to hold yourself accountable. If the action items involve other parties, coordinate the necessary meetings, training, and other events.

5. Take it to the next level.

If you attended the conference as a participant, look for the call for speakers and submit a proposal for next year! If that’s too lofty of a goal, identify local or regional events to try your hand at speaking first. If speaking is too much, get involved in putting on the event by volunteering in committees and groups. In ASSE, we have Practice Specialties – get involved in what fits your career path. You don’t have to choose just one.

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments and let’s work together to keep the conference energy going all year!




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