As an LVT and CVPM, I need to complete an average of 34 continuing education hours every year. With so many conferences to attend, people to meet and lectures to absorb, I used to get overwhelmed—emphasis on used to.
Bind the gap
My former approach was to organize my conference loot upon returning to my office. I would shuffle through myriad pamphlets and business cards and attempt to decipher my hurried, illegible notes. In an ongoing effort to keep my desk reasonably tidy, most of the above would end up in the trash (along with my ability to reference anything I’d learned).
However, when I noticed a fellow conference attendee taking notes along the edge of a printed proceedings paper for the lecture we were attending, I was struck by how much more efficient her approach was than my muddled attempts to jot down everything from the PowerPoint slides. That’s when I came up with the idea for a conference notebook.
I now prepare a three-ring binder for every conference I attend, and I do so before the event instead of after. Its contents include:
Two or three pages of business card sleeves
Proceedings papers for every lecture I plan to attend in chronological order and separated by day with dividers
Several clear plastic sleeves for holding exhibitor information sheets and pamphlets.
I use a different color of notebook for every conference. Later on, while I may not remember the exact conference at which I learned about a new employee compensation program, I do remember the information I need is in an orange notebook and can lay my hands on it with little struggle. I feel like I’m finally getting my money’s worth out of every conference and no longer worry that I’ve thrown away something useful.
Put yourself (and your staff) in a bind
All in all, each notebook takes about two hours to create, but the time and energy they save me later on (in addition to the exponential increase in information retention) makes them a worthwhile investment. I believe in this process so much that I now make a notebook for all team members before they attend a conference.
Editors' note: Want to see an example of what this looks like all put together? So did we! Click to the next page for CVC binder inspiration ...