There’s no better way to test your resolution than braving a four day conference like PubCon and returning to a pile of emails and backed-up projects. Whether you’re still recovering from PubCon Vegas 2011 (Nov 7-10th) or you just want to prepare for your next post-conference hangover, I have a recipe that might just do the trick.
If you’re one of those people who diligently keep up with your work while you’re at a conference, I would like to remind you that you don’t actually exist.
Answer emails first
Every emergency starts and stops with an email. Take Matt Cutts, who mentioned to an eager crowd gathered for his keynote address, that Google Webmaster tools is going to email you if your WordPress is not the latest version (they do for me now). Ignoring that email could get your site hacked! Check your email first to avoid a major problem.
As an added bonus, answering emails early in your PubCon hangover might just check off a few tasks on projects you’re going to have to get to anyways. Knock out your emails first to put out fires and familiarize yourself with the status of your projects.
Approach projects with care
Eventually you’re going to have to pour countless hours into those detailed projects you were caught up on before you left. Work has been piling up and there’s nothing short of good old fashioned blood, sweat, and tears that is going to fix that.
Early in your hangover it will be hard to find the time to dedicate to intricate projects. Try to at least go through the action items and status of your projects so you’re not surprised with a pending deadline you overlooked.
Try to keep project time to a minimum in the beginning so you won’t add to your email backlog by dedicating all your time to one or two projects.
Beware of meetings
Meetings are your enemy the first few days back from a conference. Avoid them like the plague, and when cornered, insist they be a phone conference or located at your office (if you can). Travel time, long winded peers and post meeting follow-ups can eat up half a day before you know it.
Limit meetings to one per day and spread them out over the next week. Remind people that you just got back from a conference learning all kinds of cool stuff that will help them. Short of an emergency, they’ll be happy to oblige. We’ve all gone through a conference hangover.
Figure out your business cards
If you’re like me, you come back from a conference wondering who the heck all these people are. Go through your stack of cards and look for ones where you wrote on the back. These are the low hanging fruit and will usually contain the clues you need to decide to act or trash.
When you decide to act, maybe consider setting a calendar reminder or task for yourself to respond to the person at a later date. There’s no shame in punting a few relationships that you can get back to later.
For cards without writing or from people you don’t remember, check out their website. It could be that they had some tool or service you really found interesting. Again, set a reminder or bookmark the site if you like it so you can get back to it later.
Of course, if the business card is about sending you business, you need to contact those people right away! The conference hangover is the opposing force of the “conference high” and can be a quick liberator of cordial feelings expressed across an open bar. Reach out to conference buddies ready to send you money before the good friend you have turns into “some guy I met at a conference”.
Do something with your notes
This is often the most heart breaking part of my own conference hangovers. I spend a ton of money on travel, meals, conference passes and lost work time to take pages of notes that sit on my desk and eventually get shuttled away into a drawer. So many great ideas banished under old boxes of business cards and iPhone cables.
Don’t let your well paid for information go to waste. Dedicate some time to transcribing your notes into an actionable form like a calendar reminder set for a later date. Set it two weeks from now and maybe then you’ll have the time to check out the new tool or technique you picked up in the sessions.
For PubCon specifically, you’ll receive a copy of the presentations on a USB drive. If you can’t read your chicken scratch or you missed a session you really wanted to attend, you’ll get a second chance at the information in a few weeks.
Make sure to stay social
This is a personal decision you’ll have to make for every relationship you made at PubCon, but try to lump people into the social network where you feel it’s most appropriate to engage with them. Try to limit people you’re a fan of to Twitter and maybe Google + (depending on the person). For people you shared a deeper connection with, take the plunge and connect through Facebook or Foursquare.
The key to maximizing your relationships will be connections through social networks. Continue your conversation and watch what they’re doing next. Chances are, if you thought the person was smart at the conference, they’ll be posting something else just as interesting in the future.
Get this knocked out early on so you can maximize the relationship while the conference memories are still fresh.
Keeping the conference high
Trudging through backed up work can quickly put an end to your conference high. After a few days of catching up, go read blog recaps or watch videos from the conference. Use these visual cues to re-ignite the fire which has been dampened by your return to the real world.
By waiting a few days to relive your conference experience, you’ll be able to fully relish in your inspiration, free from the distraction of your new email notification flashing like a strobe light.
Image Credit: Andy Beal Photography