Making the Most of Conferences
Who else is excited about attending in-person events again? I’ve attended two conferences recently and I’m thrilled to be able to hug old friends and meet some new ones.

Unfortunately, my ADHD brain is challenged with making sure I’m making the most out of in-person events while I’m there and making sure that I follow through on all the after-conference follow-up. (Follow-up is not my strong suit.)

Do you feel the same?

On this episode, I’m sharing some steps to take before, during, and after any conference or event (in-person or virtual) that will help you ensure your time and entry ticket cost aren’t wasted.

I’ve met some of my favorite people in the world at business events, and events (and some of these people!) have helped me grow my business and my network. Let’s make sure the same is true for you!

Links and Resources:

Time Stamps:

  • [1:22] – Making the most of events and conferences
  • [2:30] – Most of my favorite people in the world I’ve met at conferences or events
  • [3:11] – You never know what could come from events
  • [4:38] – Plan ahead for conference
  • [5:13] – My goal for attending Podfest in May
  • [6:01] – how to formulate a plan for that goal
  • [11:58] – How to handle the fomo when you want to attend two sessions at the same time
  • [13:55] – What’s your follow-up plan
  • [20:28] – Have a plan, but make it easy
  • [21:20] – Involve your team in how to implement what you’ve learned
  • [22:15] – Challenges of ADHD when it comes to attending events


Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care for entation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelm perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you. Hello, hello, my business besties Happy Wednesday and happy and of July, can you believe it already.

Amber Hawley 0:49
I feel like the last few months have flown by and part of why that’s the case is because I actually had the opportunity to go to two different conferences. It was a blast, I had so much fun. And as you know, when you travel, it feels like time kind of speeds up. Because you, you’re busy preparing and then you’re coming back and recuperating and all the things. But I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about how to make the most out of going to conferences or events. I love going to events and conferences because I love being with people in real life, especially after the last few years. And just feel like I’m starting to get back into that groove. I attended one event last year she podcast live where I had the opportunity to speak in October. And then this year, I was able to attend pod Fest and the group practice builders conference. So I feel like I’m ramping up my conference attendance. Again, it almost feels like being back to normal, which is really fun. I also have the realization that some of slash most of my favorite people in the world, my best friends, I have actually met at conferences or events. So when I really started thinking about that, and all the people that I’m really connected with, and that I talked to on either a daily or weekly basis, and that I feel really close with. They are people I’ve met at events. So I just I thought that was kind of funny when I started breaking it down even my biz bestie Maelissa McCaffrey, I actually met her because she sponsored an event I went to. And then after the event, we did a book club, and she joined because she was, you know, associated with it. And then we all met in person.

Amber Hawley 2:52
And so I know there is an episode, a previous episode about our how we met story. And we’ve talked about it before. But that, you know, led to so many opportunities, and obviously the creation of this podcast. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan. And I even had the awareness as I was talking to someone else that one of my new favorite people in the world, Andy Ruggles, who I had on the podcast just a couple of months ago, I actually met her on my last day at she podcast live and we spent all day together, we had a very long lunch. And I have stayed at her house twice now while visiting in Chicago. So it’s just kind of funny the you never know what can come from events, right. So it’s not just the opportunity to, you know, network and make business connections, but there’s the opportunity to make friends as well.

Amber Hawley 3:46
But obviously, the upside of going to events is the opportunity to connect with people in business. And that could lead to collaborations or it could lead to gaining clients or customers. There’s so much opportunity and at the very least you also get to expand your knowledge base, learn new things, if you’re going to an industry specific event, you know, learn more about the industry learn more about technology or cutting edge ways of doing business. I mean, there’s so many reasons to attend live events that, you know, I think it’s pretty obvious why people like doing it. I know it’s not for everyone, but I wanted to talk about what can we do to make that better.

Amber Hawley 4:36
So the first thing is, I think it’s important to kind of when you’re planning ahead, think about what is your overarching goal in attending an event is it to make specific connections with people is it to gain you know, industry knowledge or to gain business knowledge? Is it to try to connect and increase Rhys, client acquisition, what is it that you’re trying to get out of it? I will say for me, even the one pod fest that I attended in May, a big part for me was just getting to be in person with people and having a little bit of fun. And I knew that I would get to see a lot of people that I absolutely adored. So there was reconnection, for sure. But I definitely didn’t go into that one thinking, you know, I’m going to going to, like try to get clients, that wasn’t my intention. It could have been, but it just wasn’t.

Amber Hawley 5:34
And so I, I guess I’m leaving space for there are many reasons why you would go and attend something. And just I think having clarity around what is that? And it doesn’t, there’s no right or wrong, it’s just about what, what’s important to you, or what are you looking for at that particular event at that particular time. So when you have that overarching goal that helps you kind of create your plan, right? For, I think what can be helpful is, you know, if you’re looking to connect with specific people kind of going through the sessions. And, you know, there have been times where I’ve been at events where I feel like, Oh, I already have the knowledge base, I’m not really looking to learn anything, but I’ll attend sessions of the speakers that I want to meet or that I want to connect with. And sometimes I just want to connect with them, because I love their work, I think they’re really smart, I just want to get to know them better, or their friends that I want to show my support for. And sometimes, you know, it’s somebody that I just think would be a key connection to make and build, start building that relationship. Because as we know, networking is really just relationship building. And, you know, that’s kind of what sales is, as well.

Amber Hawley 6:53
So, in business, expanding your capacity to build relationships, I think is really, really important. So maybe you’re wanting to connect with other people who are attending, but not necessarily speaking. Again, there are a myriad of ways to kind of plan for this. Nikki Roush, who has been on the podcast before she talks about her strive, five, so the five people that she’s looking to kind of connect or reconnect or deepen a relationship with when she attends something, Melissa and I also used to when we would go to events, and they had like a meet up the night before or during the event, at some point, we would go through the meetup and look at everybody’s bio. And sometimes if somebody looks really interesting, we would look at their website, so that we had a little bit of knowledge, because, you know, most of the time these people were unknown to us, we didn’t know them at all. And so being able to, you know, see Is there somebody like that has something that they’re doing, that’s really cool. It’s just a way to kind of have a more impactful conversation with somebody.

Amber Hawley 8:01
And you know, instead of standing around the room and hoping, you know, you’re like, Okay, who looks open to talk, which sometimes that’s what you do, right? But knowing like, oh, I want to specifically meet this person allows you to be more efficient and effective in how you work and event, right. So that’s something I often recommend. And in the last couple years, I will say most of the events that I have attended have been using the app uova. And what is really cool about that one is, in most events, they open that that app up much earlier. And so people will start interacting. They’ll post questions, they’ll post about meetups, you can see the speaker’s information. And you can ask questions, or there might be polls. So there’s a lot of way of connecting ahead of time, which I think is really great, because it kind of breaks that ice and gives you an opportunity to talk to people connect with people a little bit beforehand, if that’s what you want to do. I will not lie sometimes it’s really overwhelming. I had gone into one where clearly, people had been interacting for many, many weeks, and I was kind of late to the game.

Amber Hawley 9:22
And I was like yeah, this is just way too much. But it is really cool because you can also go through all the attendees, and be able to send specific messages, which I want to remind you do not send spam shit, because we are not those people. It’s literally about authentically connecting. So have a purpose and intention. Even if it’s just to say I’m really curious about your work or, or you know, I love what you’re doing or I’m hoping to meet you in person at the event. My pet peeves are people who are making assumptions about your business and trying to sell you Like, don’t do that, you know, we get that enough on our DMS, right, or in our email, don’t do it on a on an app. And then the other one is if somebody just says something like, Hey, have an intention, I don’t know that’s, that’s, that’s my little soapbox pet peeve on that one. But, but again, it’s a great opportunity to connect with people. And it makes it a little less scary when you’re going to something, especially if you’re going alone and you don’t know anybody else, it does give you that sense of connection and to remember that most people are feeling the same way.

Amber Hawley 10:35
So, you know, most places are using, they may use a different app. But like I said, so many of the events I have been attending use uova. And the cool thing is uova also keeps your events in like past events. So you can still see messages from people forever. So, you know, even if you are not the fast follow up person, that stuff is always there. And then when you attend the next time, if you do attend again, and you can kind of continue those conversations, which is cool. This is not an advertisement for uova. I’ve just been an attendee. So I want to put that out there. But it shouldn’t be, I guess, if you’re planning an event, so yeah, so I think having a strategic plan in making it reasonable, don’t like Oh, I’m gonna connect with 100 people, like that’s not connecting, that’s just like, spraying people. Like, it’s just too hard. So I feel keeping that number low. So like the way Nikki Roush does with her five, or, you know, you can have more than that, or less than that. But just knowing keeping it realistic. So you can actually have an opportunity to build relationships.

Amber Hawley 11:43
The other thing that people kind of come across when they’re going to events is like, how do you handle the FOMO? When you have multiple sessions? I don’t know if I have a great answer for this one. But I it is true, it’s hard. I hate I always feel like they inevitably schedule like the sessions I’m most interested in at the same time. So that one’s a tough one. Most places, if you’ve gotten like a higher level ticket, or a VIP ticket, which I often recommend, because I do think when there’s VIP events, they tend to be smaller. And I actually like when things are smaller so that you can connect easier, and it doesn’t feel so like big and overwhelming. But often you’ll get recordings. So sometimes I tell myself the lie of all watch that one on the recording. I say the lie, because how many times have you actually done that? I know that I always have the best of intentions. And I’m going to talk just in a little bit about like, how to have a follow up plan and how to make sure you actually do that.

Amber Hawley 12:46
But let’s face it, that probably won’t happen. But sometimes if it’s really compelling, and you schedule it on your calendar, you might do it. But yeah, and that’s, you know, so that’s something to think about, like, is there one that you feel like would be best live that you’re most likely to ask questions at? And then is there something else where you’re like, Okay, that would be nice to attend, but it’s okay. The other thing I’ve done when I’ve gone with a few people that I know is we’ve split up and each of us have gone to the different sessions. And like if there’s at the same time, and then come back together, like during lunch or later on and kind of shared notes and talked about it, which also solidifies your learning, right? So if you’re attending something and you’re taking notes, and then you actually talk to somebody about it afterwards, that’s going to help you solidify whatever it is that you are learning in that session.

Amber Hawley 13:40
So the big one though, is, okay, great. You go you have a plan, you connect with people, you’re energized, you learn some shit you want to implement, it’s amazing. And then you go home. How do you make sure that you actually capitalize on that either those connections or that learning after you get back home? Well, you know, if you’ve been listening this podcast, you know, like I’m a fan. I’m highly sarcastic, but I tried to keep it real. When I was just in Chicago at the group, practice, group practice builders conference, I attended a session from Jamar Jones, who was fantastic talking about video marketing. And he asked a question like What do you do when you go back home after event? Of course, being sarcastic, I said ghost people for a week.

Amber Hawley 14:39
And I say that sarcastically but that’s truly my process. Like even though I’m an extrovert, I’m an ENFP. I really have like a post conference hangover, I think and I need to have that downtime. Now. I’ve tried I figured out some ways to kind of shorten that. Like, I used to just go straight to an event, and then come back and then go right back into work like full bore, I tried recently, I’ve really been conscientious about making sure I schedule a day after that gives me a whole day off, I think a couple of days would probably even be better. But at least giving myself that one day as like a transition day to kind of rest and recuperate and have no expectations is really helpful to help me with that kind of rebound. So that’s a suggestion. The other thing is, I think you really have to block that time on your calendar. You know, so many of us, if we don’t schedule it, it’s not going to happen, right. But if you can schedule it, and ideally, I would say, if you’re somebody who struggles with Calendar integrity, or keeping an appointment with just yourself, maybe scheduling it with somebody who either attended the event with you, or a biz bestie that you co work with, have that time blocked off, and then utilize that time to do your follow up, whether that’s, you know, kind of creating a plan from the notes or from the learnings that you had to go back over stuff to watch that session that you that you didn’t attend, but wanted to, or to follow up with people.

Amber Hawley 16:19
And I know, you know, I’ve been to many things where people are like, oh, you should follow up right away, and you know, capitalize on people that connection and, and don’t let too much time pass. But for me, I’m like, I do need a couple of days to kind of decompress. And I think a lot of people do. So even though I know that might be ideal. It’s, I’m it’s not going to happen for me, right? So giving yourself like maybe at the end of the week, you know, or, you know, a five days later, whatever it is scheduling that out and then reconnecting I still think that’s fine. I think sometimes people feel this pressure, like I have to do it right away, or I can’t do it at all. And frankly, yeah, I mean, obviously, when you’re fresh and someone smiles, it’s great. But it’s still effective. Even without that.

Amber Hawley 17:07
The other thing is, you know, if you’re using apps can being able just to save like somebody’s information, and or scanning their their name tag, like sometimes I’ve taken pictures of people’s name tags, just so I remember, like who to follow up with. So something that’s going to collect all of this stuff, right? Because yes, we can collect business cards. And I actually still love business cards. I know everybody’s anti them. But there are so many things like there are electronic business cards that you can scan and capture each other’s information. Although I was just having a discussion in a group about this were the I did that I scanned some people’s information. And then I have no idea where it went. And I couldn’t find it. And it ended up being super ineffective, whereas a actual business card would have been much better. But like I said it, I tend to take pictures of people’s badges, because that helps me remember this is somebody I want to follow up with.

Amber Hawley 18:05
Another suggestion that was made by somebody that I met in May at a conference was this was a podcasting conference. So this little specific, is she said that she she goes and subscribes to people’s podcasts after she meets them. And that way, she gets the opportunity to listen and kind of learn a little bit more about them and then kind of make the decision like is this somebody I definitely want to follow up with. So that’s a anything that where you can create a list or capture people’s information, so you can follow up with I think is really helpful. So blocking that timeout. And again, if you need additional accountability, building that in as well. I also tend to connect with people on social because that’s, you know, I am on social media every day, for better or for worse. And so it makes it really easy. So those people who I made like those friend connections with, and sometimes they become business collaboratively collaborators, right? It’s I tend to connect with them on social because it’s really easy for me to reach out to somebody like that. Now if I have to write something a little more formal, it’s just going to take me longer, if I have to email somebody, it’s going to definitely take me longer.

Amber Hawley 19:15
So connecting either on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook, wherever it is that you want to connect with somebody that can be helpful. And the last thing that that was really helpful for me is recently I started using a program called Dex, and I just forgot if it’s, that would be a good thing to know. So it’s get And it’s a CRM that helps you, you know, build and maintain relationships. I love it for so many reasons. One, like many of the technologies that I actually choose to use and invest my, my time and energy into, like aesthetically the way it’s laid out and the way that you can move around and create lists for contacts. is to me just far superior to anything I’ve ever seen. So it’s very simple and easy and intuitive. But I love the ability to kind of, like move people’s names around in create those, those sub lists of contacts. And the beauty is I connected my decks to my LinkedIn. So anytime I add a new LinkedIn connection, it automatically goes in my decks. So I highly recommend that because that’s been really helpful for me about making it easier, because if I need a plan, right, we all do this, we all need a plan. But I needed to be easy. And I needed to be clear. So I know exactly what to do.

Amber Hawley 20:41
And I think sometimes we don’t follow up, because we’re not actually clear on what is it we’re wanting to do? What is it we’re hoping to get out of this? And like I said, I think at the very least, you know, when it comes to connecting with people, make it about building relationships, you know, there are so many people that I realize now I’ve been connected to for seven years, and I have very deep supportive relationships. And there’s been a lot of, you know, business referrals and collaborations and all kinds of wonderful things that have come out of that beyond the friendship itself. And so be looking at that networking thing as like the long game. But going back to how do I implement some of the things that I’ve learned or inspired to do? That goes back to again, scheduling out that time. And if you have a team, I think it’s also important to meet with your team and kind of talk about the things that you’ve learned not just not just coming back from an event and saying, Okay, we’re changing everything, you don’t want to do that to your team, because then they’ll be terrified every time you go to an event. But coming back and having discussions about this is what I’ve learned here, you know, what this is what I’m thinking, like, is there something in this that we can incorporate? I think anytime you can have other people supporting you in making those changes.

Amber Hawley 22:00
So whether that’s, you know, your team, or your biz bestie, or a coach or your operations person, whatever it is, like having having those discussions with other people, again, helps with that accountability piece. So lastly, I just want to touch on, you know, the challenges of ADHD, I’ve kind of talked a little bit about them that, you know, maybe feeling you’re on cloud nine, you have all this energy, when you’re at the event, you come back, you have that hyperfocus hangover, so to speak, that conference hangover, that event hangover, and you just feel exhausted, and you just get back into your day and you forget about it. You know, if you’re not wanting to do that, if you’re really wanting to implement or have some takeaway, I think the important thing to do before you leave the event, and this is another strategy I, I do like having extra time. So if the event ends, like Sunday or Sunday afternoon, you know, staying until Monday, and then traveling back and having that extra day off off. But staying that night or that extra day. So I can sit down after everyone’s gone and collect my thoughts and kind of synthesize just a little bit is really helpful.

Amber Hawley 23:14
Because when I’m there and it’s present in right in front of you, it’s much easier to focus. And I think when you do that, the one thing I would say is get really clear if you might have a lot of ideas. But if you were going to implement one, or if one seems like, Oh, this is what I’m needing right now, whether that be a system, a technology strategy, whatever it is, I would really try to narrow it down to one thing, when we try it when we think we’re going to implement like 10 different things. It’s not realistic, right. And I know our little ADHD brains love to do that. And they love to do all the things. But really focusing and getting clarity around that is going to be the most helpful thing that you can do for yourself, because then it’s manageable, it’s sustainable. And, again, with clarity, so much easier to do. So hopefully this was helpful for you and thinking about, you know, as more of more of you are venturing out to events into conferences, having a plan for planning ahead, you know, connecting with people how to follow up with people, and how to schedule things out and implement after that event or that conference.

Amber Hawley 24:31
And if you’re thinking I would love to have a higher level of accountability, I just want to remind you that in the inner circle, we have weekly co working and what’s so great about that is we have the accountability we check in we have our power hours and then we have longer co working days where you can say okay, this is what I’m doing. I just attended an event last week. I’m going to sit I’m going to watch these videos that have the sessions. I didn’t go to or I am going to do all my follow up emails or messages right now during this time so the the membership is built to support you in all of these things that can be so challenging and help you stay focused. So if you want more information head on over to I would love to see you there.

Transcribed by

The Inner Circle

a unique membership for ADHD {and ADHD-ish} biz owners who live in Distraction City, with shiny object syndrome, and live life with other tendencies that keep us from doing our best work.

You want a sustainable life. A work/home/school/family stability that WORKS, functions on good habits, systems, and approaches that set us up for immeasurable success both personally and professionally.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join The My Biz Bestie Community today: