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Before and after ‘conventional wisdom’

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

If you're lucky enough to spend a few days at a convention, networking, learning and developing new skills, make sure you squeeze the most out of the experience. The key, says Valerie Sokolosky in her book Do It Right!, is preparation and follow-up.

Prepare before you go:

Think about your goals, and how the event might help you reach them. Keep your goals in mind as you choose workshops to attend.

Make a “key contacts” list. Call or e-mail former colleagues in advance and arrange to meet socially while you’re there.

Study the presenters’ background information. What would you want to ask them if you ran into them after their presentation?

Set expo priorities. Interested in upgrading a software package or looking into new products? Map out where those vendor booths are located, so you can avoid wasting time searching the trade-show floor.

When you get back to the office:

Make an action plan—with a timeline—listing the top three to five things you learned and how you should follow up on them.

Organize the business cards that you brought back. As you go through them, send a quick e-mail to people, so it seals their memory of you. Attach any digital photos you have from the event.

Send personal thank you notes to presenters you enjoyed, then keep in touch.

Share and discuss what you’ve learned with team members. Example: You might do a mini-presentation, post notes on your company intranet or hold a discussion group with others who also were at the event. Tip: Treat team members to mementos from your trip, such as Mardi Gras beads from New Orleans or oranges from Florida.

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