Avoid Conference Overload

When I became a full-time wedding professional about 5 years ago, I discovered Book More Brides and, man, did I start studying!

Since then I have attended wedding and marketing conferences (come see me speak about Pinterest marketing at this year’s Wedding MBA), taken classes with Book More Brides, and worked with a business coach.

One of the most prominent things I learned: there are wwwaaaaayyyyy more marketing tips out there than there is time to try them…and anyone who has ever been to an industry conference has experienced this avalanche of marketing tips in a 2-3 day barrage.

Can I get an amen?

I still have all my old notes from industry conferences. Sometimes I look back through them and think, “What the heck was I so excited about here?”

Or I catch myself writing down stuff I already know (i.e. “following up with new leads is key”). Or, for some reason, I chose to attend a lecture that was really not high on my “business problems to be solved” list (i.e. something like “How to Get Your Business on TV”).

Step 1: Pick the Right Lectures

As I have grown as an entrepreneur, I have actually found myself attending fewer lectures at conferences…I pick and choose now.

And I don’t feel obligated to attend something during every time slot. Why? Because my brain needs time to digest and assimilate new ideas and info. There is often so little time for that at conferences.

It’s easy to spread yourself too thin. If you are confident that your pricing system is crafted to perfection, then maybe you can skip the pricing lecture and instead go over notes from an earlier lecture that you found really inspiring. Capture those good ideas before they fade away.

Also, opt more for lectures that seem like they are offering you something concrete (“8 Steps to…” v. “Interview with Bridal Shop Owner”).

If the lecture’s description seems fluffy, expect the content to be of a similar nature. Lectures with free checklists or hand-outs, tend to have actionable, step-by-step instructions.

Step 2: Take Hand Written Notes

But your tablet is so modern and cool….I know, but numerous studies have shown that taking notes by hand with pen and paper is more effective for retaining and understanding information.

The reason is because when we write notes by hand, we are forced to “translate” it to shorthand as we go—meaning we are already thinking about what strikes us as valuable.

When we type notes, we are far more likely to just transcribe a lecture and not actually interact with the material.

As you take your handwritten notes, use different ink colors, a highlighter, underline things, draw arrows…all of this helps remember and grasp the information.

Step 3: Go Through Your Notes At Home

The day you get home (no, not next week), go through your notes while they are still fresh in your mind. Make a list of actual actionable steps you can take to implement the ideas you liked, such as:

  1. recategorize my blog
  2. order branded thank you cards.

NOT really vague projects, such as:

  1. fix blog
  2. work on getting more repeat customers.

Most likely you will have an intimidating and long list when finished. Pick the top 3 most important things and do them that first week or month home. Outline the 3 most important things to do when the first are completed.

Jumping around the list randomly will ensure the “quick fixes” get done first while the more time-consuming projects get repeatedly ignored. Prioritize!

In Conclusion

Each conference is different, so think about your strategy to prevent brain explosion even before the conference begins.

I have been to Social Media Marketing World twice–there are about a dozen lectures to choose from in any one time slot plus discussions during lunch, break out sessions, the LinkedIn group, and so on. So the first year, I focused on Pinterest lectures. The second year, I focused on Instagram lectures.

Finally, you don’t need to be going to 4-5 conferences or workshops a year. You’re going to burn out.

If the bottom half of your list didn’t get done, be gentle with yourself. I doubt many of us have ever done every single thing on that “conference idea” list. So accept that as kinda being the nature of the beast…and that’s OK!

What’s actions have you taken as a result of something you learned at a conference?