The First Annual Beautiful You Conference happened four months ago and it seems like time keeps flying by! Before we know it, it will be time for next year’s conference.

I have been to several conferences in the past few years--whether church related or work related. Just within the last month, I went to 3 conferences on 3 separate weekends.

The first was the Association of Women’s Business Centers annual conference where I learned tools and tips to be a more effective business counselor.

The second was the Propel Women Activate event, hosted by popular Christian author and speaker Christine Caine.

The third was my own conference that I was planning at my job called “Collecting Change: Grassroots Methods for Building Social Enterprise.”

With every conference, there’s always so much information to digest. It can be hard to know what the next steps should be after we’ve heard inspirational messages and even practical tips. At women’s conferences in particular, there’s always a lot of positive energy and excitement in the room. However, we want to make sure that we aren’t going to these functions just to socialize and have fun. We want to come back with a game plan, right?!

Here’s my advice on how to make the most out of your conference experience.

  1. Come with a task list

You want to have some sort of goals that you’re achieving at the conference. Even if it’s just stepping outside of your comfort zone to meet two new people.

I can admit that I stayed to myself at the Propel Event. I didn’t meet anyone new. It can be tempting to stay with the group you came with and not network with new faces. Next time, I’ll do better!

  1. Follow up with the people you meet

Let’s say you do make it a goal to meet new people. Maybe you exchange contact information in the form of a business card, or you simply get each other’s social media account information. Whatever the case is, make sure you follow up with them in a reasonable amount of time after the conference. You don’t want several months to go by without reconnecting. Chances are, you have something in common and there’s a greater purpose why you met. You won’t find this out unless you take the step of introducing yourself past the initial hello.

3. Review your notes in your quiet time

What’s the point of taking notes at a conference (or any function for that matter) if you don’t go back and read them? I’m famous for this. I’ll type it up in the “notes” section of my phone and never look at it again. Make your money go further by putting these nuggets of information into action. If someone mentions a book to read, look it up later. Go to your library or see if any friends have it so you can borrow it. A lot of times, there’s a boatload of advice in books that can take us to the next level and we can save a lot of money instead of flying out to conferences, etc.

4. Do a self-assessment

Out of all of that was said at the conference, which pieces of advice were you already implementing in your life? What was new to you? Did you feel really behind in one particular area? Do you need to reach out to the presenter and talk to them one-on-one to get more clarification on a topic? Whatever the case is, make sure you take inventory of where you are in relation to your personal, professional or spiritual goals.

5. Hold yourself accountable

Once you assess yourself, you will probably come up with a few more task items to do. Find an accountability partner (maybe the person you met in step 1) to hold you to those goals. Maybe you’ve decided you need to start or join a small group. Your accountability partner should check in with you to make sure you talked to a leader or mentor that will get you started in this new role.

Conferences are great, but they can’t sustain you. Put a plan in place to reach your goals and to get excited about them, just as if you had gone to a conference the day before. Don’t depend on a big event to keep you inspired. It’s what we do in the in-between time that really matters.

What are your thoughts? How do you maintain momentum after big conferences?