3 Ways to Make the Most Out of a Conference

As marketers, we know a thing or two about events. The excitement, the education, the entertainment…and the exhaustion. Oh boy, do we KNOW the exhaustion. Especially after a massive event like CAI’s Annual Conference & Expo. The first thing you want to do when you get back home is sleep for at least a week, maybe two. 

Rest is important, but don’t lose the momentum! There’s a lot to be done after a show wraps up that can help you make the most out of your conference experience (not just for CAI National, but any event or user conference you attend) and make sure you get the absolute biggest bang for your buck.

1. Submit your CEU credit and certification forms!

Do not let all of your hard work go to waste just because you miss a deadline. We’ve all done it before–truly. You get back, thinking you’ll send in the forms that week, but then you open your inbox and you’re playing catch up for three days, and by the time you realize you never mailed the forms in, the deadline has come and gone, and you spent all that money and time for no credit. Review the submission deadlines ahead of time and get everything ready to send out first thing after the show. 

2. Hold a big-picture retrospective with your entire team-not just those who attended.

You don’t have to do this the moment you get back to the office, but the sooner you hold a meeting to talk about everything you saw and heard at the conference, the better. Go over the biggest trends you saw speakers and panels discussing, the new features major products or service providers seem to be offering, and the topics that dominated the networking events. These are going to inform your whole year! If the industry is abuzz about something, you want to make sure you’re at least talking about it in your offices to make sure you follow (or lead!) trends as they come to serve your clients better.

3. Build a list of vendors you want to call.

You’ll want to tackle this pretty quickly, too. Making it a priority will ensure the conference is fresh in your mind, and you’ll have a better memory of who really excited you, and who left you feeling unimpressed. Sift through all of the business cards, brochures, pamphlets, and assorted goodies you picked up (or had thrust into your hands), and start building a list. Whether you’re already searching for a new service provider, or just want to follow up with the salesperson who went above and beyond to wow you, deciding which vendors to call is an important follow-up step after every conference you attend.

Industry conferences are an important part of any business, and for community managers and management companies, they’re a fantastic opportunity to knock out a lot of work in one go. CAI has a list of the events they’ve got scheduled for 2022, but don’t forget to check out your local chapters and pencil in other major events like the Cooperator Expos (you can find their full list of 2022 shows on their event site footers) and CACM Law Seminars (both NoCal and SoCal have passed this year, but they have a virtual law seminar scheduled as well as several other events throughout the year). 

Bonus Tip: Share that swag! 

You got the to live the fun first-hand, but your team who stayed behind deserves to share the experience. They’ll all appreciate a little piece of the event to keep for themselves. And yes, that includes the tasty treats you picked up, too. I know you want those fancy chocolates all for yourself, but sharing is caring!!