Conference Value Continues

10 Tips for Extending the Value of the ILTA Conference

by Ayelette Robinson

ILTA conferences are amazing. With scores of truly high-quality sessions and networking opportunities galore (both live and virtual), each conference is bound to give you a professional high. So when you return to earth (and work) after the official conference is over, how do you extend the value of what you learned and implement all those ideas that you heard in a way that really impacts what you do?

To get a sense of just how much knowledge was shared at the ILTA 2010 Conference:

So, with so much information presented, discussed, analyzed and tweeted throughout a single week, how do you remember the takeaways that matter to you?

Here are 10 tips that can help you extend the value of the conference well into the rest of your year:

  1. During your morning coffee or commute the week after conference, review your notes from the conference.
  2. When you see something that makes you go "aha," write it down on a 'Conference Aha' list. (The goal here is to compile a list much shorter than your full notes, maybe five to ten bullets points.) 
  3. Pick one (just one!) takeaway that you will weave into your projects that week.
  4. Put the list of five to ten bullet points into a calendar invitation that repeats every Monday morning for the next few weeks to remind you of the new things you should be thinking about as you get back into your projects.
  5. Put the same full list into a calendar invitation that repeats every three months, as a quarterly reminder of your favorite takeaways from the conference. (Note: As each quarter rolls around, it’s appropriate to adjust the list with enhancements and modifications as you try new things, and as you realize what will and won't work for your organization.)
  6. Attend your local ILTA Conference Recap event, and share your takeaway list with those in your area who didn’t attend the conference, and with those in your area who attended but probably highlighted different takeaways.
  7. Input business cards you received at the conference into your Contacts, with notes about when you met each person and what you talked about (so you remember whom to contact when you have a question about system X).
  8. Send LinkedIn invitations to the new people that you met, so you can stay in touch and continue to exchange knowledge and experiences with them.
  9. Start following these same people on Twitter, so you can see the news and topics that are affecting these colleagues and your industry.
  10. Set aside 30-60 minutes a week to read the blogs, news feeds, and ILTA e-group discussions that are relevant to you, to continue learning even after the conference. (Tip: Really set just 30-60 minutes a week as your goal, focusing on the most interesting topics and articles; if you aim for more time than that, it’ll be hard to keep up, and you’re bound to start feeling behind).

The ILTA conference is unique in its ability to merge impressive educational sessions with substantive networking opportunities. Follow these tips to let both of these facets of the conference, the new ideas and the new relationships, work for you.