The popular belief is that everyone dislikes change. Then why do CEO’s, small and mid-size business owners send managers, supervisors and sales staff  to workshops,  trade shows and conferences?

For many,Fall is the commencement of the trade show season. Companies invest billions of dollars to attend learning related events.

I believe that somewhere in most human beings is a belief that “New” will be better. Product marketers tout that their product is “New and Improved.” They’d never increase sales if they said the new packaging is the only thing that is different and that they cut production costs, thus the product is now lousy.”

Leaders continually want to improve results no matter how success is measured. For some it may be accounted for in increased profits or revenues and others measure success in increased employee retention. Whatever your goals are for sending employees to events, change is part of the decision.

We attend to learn new information about the latest and greatest technology innovations. We meet industry thought leaders. The problem is that few attendees every implement anything new.

It is in the implementation phase that we drop the ball. We return to the daily grind to find our desk piled high with new project assignments, a packed email box, new fires to put out and scads of calls to return.

Who has the time to reflect on the glorious innovations from the conference? Those sales opportunities we uncovered may fall to the bottom of the stack. New acquaintances with whom we shared stimulating conversations might never be added to our contact database.

Stop right there. Don’t attend another event if you don’t take time to debrief your brain and reflect on the primary learning points. Create a plan to use what you heard.

Tips to implement Conference Gems

  1. Clear 2-hours on your calendar within 48-hours of returning from the event.
  2. Gather notes, brochures, business cards and the samples you brought back.
  3. Get comfortable in your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. Select a beverage be it a cup of java, herbal tea or a glass of Chardonnay.
  4. Read all conference notes. Highlight the most striking ideas.
  5. Reread the highlighted ides. Select three that you’ll implement in the coming year. Yes three. You can always go back and pick up the second tier gems after you implement the top three.
  6. Set up implementation timelines for your top three. One at a time. You are more likely to succeed if you gain momentum by accomplishing the first one.
  7. Determine what resources, if any, you will require to implement the new idea. Secure those for task #1.
  8. Select an accountability partner who will make sure you follow through.
  9. Pat yourself on the back. You are ahead of 50-60% of those at the conference who never use what they hear.
  10. Head to your next Conference, knowing you have a plan to implement what you learn. It works as long as you follow the process.