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Just attended a conference – now what?

By Tom Skeen

It’s Monday morning and you’re just getting back into the office after being away last week at a conference. You’re probably going through all of the free swag that you acquired and trying to remember who is who and what is what.

It is all most-likely overwhelming because you have information overload, have expense reports to do, a conference summary and possibly even a vendor recommendation to write for your bosses bosses boss. The easiest thing to do is to move on to the expense report because that’s the easiest task to complete, but that should not be your plan.

I’ve been in this situation many times and have learned a few things over the years. Lets outline step by step the best approach to tackling this mountain.

  1. Put the expense report aside – most companies give you days if not weeks to complete
  2. Pull out your list of goals to accomplish at the conference & prioritize them
  3. If you have vendor business cards & swag separate them into 3 categories: Interested, Not Interested & Don’t Know
  4. Document each vendor and a very brief summary of what each company does for the ones that you are interested in
  5. If you don’t remember go to each company’s website to refresh your memory
  6. Once you have a clear idea of what vendor provides what product/service, make a short list of each. I recommend no more than 3 vendors/category
  7. If you aren’t sure who to short list – go to an independent third party for some help and/or do some research online
  8. Contact each vendor for a brief formal written overview of their product/service if you don’t already have one
  9. Once you have a short list of 3 vendors, schedule a 1 -2 hour session with each for a detailed product overview, demonstration and Q&A session
  10. Finally, if you think you have forgotten any vendor – don’t be too worried as I’m sure they captured your information and will be in touch with you

Selecting a vendor to do a P.O.C (Proof of Concept) with can be a difficult task. Some vendors might be very large, some vendors might be small and some vendors might have a team of fast-talkers, but the fact is a product demonstration and proper documentation can go a long way in showing you what a company (large or small) can do to help solve your problems. Be leery of the company that says, “yes” to most every functional item you ask for (if so ask for documentation) or says “yes” that they can build a customizable solution for 60% or more of your requirements – that product wouldn’t be supportable on a timetable that’s expected or just doesn’t exist.

Keep in mind - the smallest and most agile vendor might just be the one that will be willing to partner with you the most and provide the best “bang for your buck”.
Don’t forget to do your expense report!

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