3 Simple Steps To Help Small Business Operators Benefit From Attending Conferences, Workshops & Seminars!

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Delroy A. Whyte-Hall
Freelance Writer/Blogger

Every wondered why your colleagues and fellow small business owners would leave the comfort of their own homes, as well as their families to cram into a meeting room with a bunch of strangers for a day or two?

Well, there are many reasons why people attending these “can’t miss” conference, workshop, or seminar events of the year:  One is to ensure the future growth and success of your professional or business development.

But having immersed yourself in one to four jam-packed days of 20 plus Professional Development sessions on hot business topics, including social media, marketing, communications, branding, IT, money management, and entrepreneurship.

But having got what you considered to be more bang for your money — you see this as one event that covers all aspects of professional and business development for the price of registration.

But having gain exclusive access to the brightest minds in the business world, you were impressed, awed and inspired by the stellar lineup of speakers.

But having rubbed shoulders, schmoozed, and networked with thousands of your peers at the various Opening Night Receptions, luncheons, networking events and refreshment breaks – you did make sure that everyone gets your business cards. Oh, yes, you did make sure you collected theirs cards too!

But having connected with others in your field while getting a taste of those Northcoast resorts or those idyllic overseas locations during popular Sections Networking Lunches, and scoped out the latest products and most advanced solutions on the market in the various Exhibition Halls, now came the time when you return home from these conferences, seminars, or workshops, it’s easy to forget all the things you learned and promised yourself you’d implement.

After all, you’re back in your regular environment: your family needs attention after you’ve been gone, work tasks have piled up, personal items need handling. How are you going to “catch up” and incorporate all the new things as well?

Well, here are Sandra Martin’s simple process for ensuring how she implement and put new ideas into action as soon as she return from a conference, seminar or workshop. Sandra is head of SMG Communications (http://www.sandramartini.com/main.php), located in Lakeville, MA, USA.

1. Create An ‘Action List’

While at the workshop, you should make an action list of all the ideas you want to implement in your business – some are new and some are refining things you would have already be doing.

“The important thing to note here is that I do NOT censor this list – everything I think of goes on it,” says Sandra.

2. Take A Day

If possible, take a day or 1/2 day when you get home to unpack, get back in the swing of things and take a good look at your Action List (Sandra’s usually runs 2-3 pages).

Review the items and decide which make sense for your business right now, in the next six months and in the next year.

Once you’ve separated the items into different lists, Sandra says you should take out the “right now” sheet:

On this sheet, Sandra said you should identify items that can be done in 10 minutes or less. If so, she said you should identify those items and schedule an hour for each group of five activities over the next week. This she said allows for a little extra time, and ensures you make steady progress soon after the seminar.

What about bigger projects? “No sweat,” says Sandra, “break them down into smaller chunks – 30 minutes at most – and schedule them on your calendar.”

By scheduling these activities on your “calendar”, Sandra noted that you’d have had a start and end time for getting them done, and ensuring you got the most out of your time at the workshop.

The other two lists she said should then be filed away for future action.

3. Follow-Up

Chances are you’d have met new friends and potential clients, and according to Sandra, now would be an opportune time to drop them a brief note letting them know you’re happy to have met them; and follow-up with any information you may have promised.

She also advises that you shouldn’t forget, if possible, to thank the speakers for the seminar, workshop, or conference for all that you learned.

Make It Real: Sandra’s Request To You

Now Sandra invites you to think back to the last conference, workshop, or seminar you attended. Question is: “Did you create an Action List of things to implement in your business?”

If not, she encourages you to schedule some time on your calendar to sit down with the workshop binder, go through your notes and create an Action List of everything you want to implement.

Having done that, then you should follow the steps Sandra outlined above for getting them done! “I set the intention to get at least one thing (new idea, better way of doing something, etc.) from every conference or workshop I attend – after all, the cost of attendance is high: money, travel, hotel, and, most importantly, my time and energy,” notes Sandra.

Finally, Sandra is reminding you to always pack a “conference bag” so you’ll have a few munchies, a bottle of water, extra pens, etc.