We’re Home from the Conference: Now What?

We learned a lot, networked happily, made discoveries that tickle our imaginations. The conference has ended, insofar as the scheduled programs have run their course, the exhibits have shuttered, and we’ve probably done some amount of traveling to get home, or on to the next location on our personal calendars.

And now is when we need to plan–and actually do–the real work. We were able to get to the conference, to be exposed to ideas, methods, tools, and most of all our library and information peers. The staff back at home? Nope. They kept the store open, or couldn’t even do that in an economy that required us to get to the conference on our own personal dimes, dimes they didn’t have to spare. But in bad economic times or good, those who attend professional conferences do so with the professional obligation to pay it forward, to do more than complete an adminstrative form noting when they went, what they attended and three things that were on offer of interest to their own institutions.

Sharing what we saw and inspiring ideas may seem straightforward, but we need to share, not dump or brag or undersell. And that takes the networking piece. How do we bring the networking home to those in our libraries who weren’t there?

We draw a bigger network. We invite them in. We provide more than a passed along business card with the message to contact the name on it. Instead, we make the initial call a three-way one and introduce the local person to conference colleague in real time. We ask our library Tweeter if she knows that someone we met at conference is an avid Twitter fan of hers–and provide her with that colleague’s Twitter handle. We invite a conference speaker who touched our imaginations about a way we might be able to take our local library forward to join the managers, via Skype or FaceTime, in an upcoming management meeting to discuss the concept more fully with the lead team.

What’s next after the conference? Getting the conferrence home, connecting our staff to the possibilities it not only offered but which, in fact, are still possibilities for them to meet and consider. We need to network across time as well as space.