Ep 97 | What to Do Before and After an Online Conference

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Are you tempted to sign up for every single conference or online event that pops up on your Facebook feed! Yes, learning is always good and I always recommend challenging yourself, but there is a time and place where these events can help you grow and where they can sidetrack you from the important work you need to be doing.

In this episode you'll learn:

→ what to consider before registering to an event (even the free ones).
→ how to prepare before the event starts.
→ what to do when it's over.


Want to skip ahead?  Here are some key takeaways:

[4:38] Before you register think about your business goals and how the event aligns with what you're trying to do in the short term and in the next year.
[9:50] Once I've determined that I'm going to attend the event, then it's about figuring out what sessions are most impactful for me and what I want to attend live. Don't attend all the sessions as that can be overwhelming, but figure out what you know will make the biggest impact in your goals for your organization.
[13:28] Take what you learned and review your notes. Build out a plan for what you're going to execute and when. It doesn't have to happen all at once. Remember progress not perfection.


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Full Transcript

[INTRO] Hey there, everybody, Sami here, your host of the digital marketing therapy podcast. And I am excited to be here to talk with you about what to do after you attend a summit online or a conference, or whatever. You show up to these events, you learn a lot. And then it's like, oh, my gosh, what do I do with all this information?

We recently held the online fundraising virtual summit, which supported nonprofits in their quest to build their monthly donor programs, grow their monthly donor programs and get more retention there. And we had amazing speakers 20 plus sessions, and it was a lot for organizations to take in. Because you come to these events, everybody's kind of at a different place in their journey at a different place in their experience level, different levels, sizes of teams. And so, you know, it can be hard to really take in all of that information and figure out how to process it and how to turn it into actionable items, and not already feel crazy overwhelmed.

So I'm going to talk you through some thoughts, some ideas, some things to consider before you go to an event like this. And after you go to an event, so that you can make better use of them still take action and still get things done. Because at the end of the day, it's not worth your time to show up to these events if you're not willing to take action and execute on the things that you are learning. So that's what we're going to talk about today. And I'm excited to do that, to do that with you.

But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our private Facebook community. Now this is a free community for nonprofit fundraisers to come together, share experiences, about how to get online, what they're doing, what's working, what's not working. And then we do all sorts of fun things inside of that group to support you as well. That is also where all of our future online fundraising summits go down. And so I'm excited about that, we will have another summit coming up in May, all of our online fundraising events. So I hope you'll join us there facebook.com/groups/thefirstclick. Join us there. And let's have some fun conversation about how we can support your organization in more visibility in the online space. For now, let's get into the episode.

[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sammy del mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[BODY] So it's important that that we're always learning right that we're always learning new techniques, new tactics, new goal, like new ways to reach our goals. And with online summits and online conferences, it's definitely become way more cost effective for people to show up to these events. And to take them all in and you know, a lot of them are free, ours are free. And then we have you know, all access passes that are super cost effective. I mean, for less than one night of a hotel room, at a regular conference, you can have, you know, the same amount of information thrown at you for you know, a lower cost.

So it can be really enticing to, to sign up for all these things to do all of these things, and then you do them all, but then you don't actually take action, you don't actually take action. So it becomes kind of this thing where you then you're just percolating all of these amazing ideas and all of these concepts and like, Okay, well, what if we did this? What if we did this? What if we did this?

So the first thing that I like to think about when a summit or an online event comes my way, is to really go back to what are my goals for the year, like, what is it we really want to achieve, because there's never a shortage of ideas. There's never a shortage of new strategies. There's never a shortage of, of, you know, ways to reach the goals. And especially in the nonprofit space, you might have board members, you might have volunteers, you have staff, whatever that might look like, everyone's going to have different ideas, concepts, suggestions, recommendations, and it can get really overwhelming to really figure out what you should be doing. And the same is true with kind of the summit.

So I want you to go back to what are our ultimate goals. And I really want to challenge you to almost have a little bit of tunnel vision around that. And I have definitely tried all the things taken all the courses, spent 1000s of dollars really just figuring out do I want to have a course do I want to do this, like what are the things that I want to do in order to impact people the most. And it's really taken me four years to get to this space where I'm enjoying and loving running these summits and educating and networking with other professionals and supporting nonprofit fundraisers and what they're doing. Now. Each event is going to have different metrics and each event I might hit or miss some of those and so what I'm really focusing on is, you know, not just taking a look at those snapshots, but really saying, Okay, well, what was the end goal? What did I really want to happen? And what worked? Well, that got me to is going to get me closer to that end goal and what didn't work so well that I thought maybe would that maybe I just don't need to do that piece of it anymore.

And so the same is true when you're thinking about showing up to these events? Is the topic of the event, something that makes sense for me now, or is it something that makes sense for me in the next six months, because it could also be a thing where somebody is running an event. And you know, you can get an all access pass with lifetime access to the videos for like, 47 or $200, whatever, something super cheap. And then you just say, you know what, I'm going to go ahead and buy this so that I have it. And I'm just not going to touch it until I get to that point, right.

So for example, we're running a summit in May, that's all about how to run your first or not your first sorry, how to run a more successful online fundraising event with less stress. Now, it could be that in May, you won't need that information, because you're not running a fundraiser until November. So maybe it's a situation where you're like, well, that would be nice to have. But I don't need that right now. So either I'm just going to pass on it and hope that it comes up again, or I'm going to go ahead and get it. But I'm not going to use it versus an organization that may be like, Oh, yeah, we're running an online fundraiser, that we're in the, in the midst of planning right now, that's going to be happening in August. So this is perfect timing, then that might be a great opportunity to jump in, and really take advantage of all of it live and participate and really like take in those skills, right?

So think about before you before you choose to attend these conferences, or before you take these training things. What are what is it going to do for you that's going to help support you right now, what is it going to do to support you and your short term near term goals? And is it going to support you in your long term strategies?

For example, maybe you aren't running any online fundraising events. But that's kind of one of those things that you guys have talked about. That's like, Oh, yeah, that would be a good idea. We should try that sometime. But you're already really busy with other campaigns that you're running your monthly donor campaign, whatever it is that you have going on in your organization, don't attend a summit that's about online fundraisers, if you aren't going to be doing online fundraisers, just because it's a strategy that's out there, if that's not something that you guys have deemed for your organization is something that is impactful and make sense. Don't just add something else to the mix.

So that's where I see people showing up to events, taking it all in and then getting really overwhelmed. Because they're like, Oh, my gosh, all this stuff is great. And yes, all of this stuff is great. But that doesn't mean that is great for you and your organization where you're at right now. Okay, so that is the first thing that I want to challenge you on, before you sign up register for summit.

I want to backtrack here for a second, because I'm using the term summit, which is very familiar to me. It's something that I run on a quarterly basis these days. But an online summit is basically an online virtual conference. And there's a variety of them the way that they can look, it could be an online conference, it could be a summit, it could be an in person conference. So I'm using the word summit just because that's what's in my brain right now. But please know that that can be interchanged with any kind of kind of conference, workshop type, multi day, usually type event.

Okay, so once I've decided, yes, I'm going to attend this event. Like I said before, determine if it's something that you're just going to purchase so that you have because you know it's coming down the pipeline, you're just not ready right now. Or if you're going to go all in and really participate and get the most out of it, you can while event is being run live, if you are going to be participating in it live, I never recommend attending every single session, it's going to be hard, it's going to overwhelm you, you're not going to be able to really take in the things that you need that are going to actually drive you forward.

And so I often spend a good amount of time looking over the schedule, looking over the descriptions of the programs, if they're there, who the speakers are, and then really figuring out each day. And again, this depends on the length of the conference. This depends on the length of the sessions, and all of that good stuff. But what are the things that I know that I really need to take in in order to support myself and to be quite honest, if I am signing up for an online event, I typically even if they have a free version will always buy the all access pass immediately when it's offered whatever that might look like. Because that's when you get lifetime access to the videos and that alone is gold. And the price that you get right after you register is the cheapest price you're going to get. So I always usually do that. You don't have to do that. I'm not saying that just because I do I have a program that we sell but i just i want to throw that out there.

So then I put onto my calendar block off the time, these are the live sessions that I know I want to hit. And that way I know they're blocked off, they're there, people can't schedule or book time with me, I'm committing myself to I'm going to show up for these events. And sometimes it works, or it doesn't work out and my schedules already booked, it doesn't matter, whatever. In that case, then I will often block off time in my schedule for exactly what I'm going to watch those replays. So again, they're there, I get reminded, because the last thing we want to do is pay for something and forget that we did so.

So once I have my game plan in mind, I know it's related back to my goals, I'm ready to show up for the event. Now on event days, and I don't want to get too much into this because I really want to talk about prepping before and after. But on the event days, I really want to make sure that I'm in a space where I have, I'm ready with my notes, I've got a notepad that I like to take paper notes, that's just me. So whatever it is for you, that makes sense. I like to make sure that my family's understanding like today, or this week, we have a lot going on, I'm doing this workshop or your team could be your team, your bosses, whatever. Because again, if we're paying for something, we want to make the most bang for our buck, right. And then I really want to make sure that I am taking good notes on the things that are most impactful writing down things like you might want to watch this video again. But the you know, all that's fine. I'm sure you have your own processes for that. But at the end of the day, I like to spend a little bit of time to reflect what does the stuff that I learned actually mean for my business? or What does the stuff that I learned actually mean for my organization? What are the things that I know I can implement right away take action on that I'm going to see results from and what are the things that are you know, let's keep this in mind down the road? These are great tools and things to use in the future. But we're not there yet. Or what are the things that like, that was cool to learn, we're not there yet, I'm not even gonna take a brainspace figuring that out.

And I like to do that at the end of every day. Because as each day goes on, you start to get a little bit more overwhelmed, right, you have all these things that are coming up, and it's like, okay, I like to be able to have something that I can go back to at the end of the week, or the end of the conference, whatever the timeline is, and say, Okay, these were the things that I wrote down each day that were the most impactful for me. So that gets you through the week that gets you through the sessions, right?

So then after so what happens afterwards, you're on a high, right, you're all excited, you've learned a lot, you've gained amazing knowledge. And you have met some incredible people, you've networked with some incredible people, you have probably gotten inspired by some speakers, maybe you're going to follow them now on social media for additional tips, you know, subscribe to their podcast, whatever, right? So you're just in a place where now you're consuming all of this stuff. So how do we take this stuff into action? And we heard this a lot with our summit. I don't know where to go next, I'm at this stage, what do I do, or I am going to bring this stuff to my board, we'll see what they say, or I don't have control over what happens or doesn't happen with our budget. So I'll just bring these ideas, and we'll see what happens, right. So you have all this energy and excitement about the good things that you're going to do to help propel your organization forward. But you don't necessarily know how that's actually going to be executed.

So instead of just kind of going into a board meeting, or going into your staff and be like we have we got to do this, we got to do this or sitting in your own, you know, if you're working if you're if it's just you sitting there being like, okay, now I have this whole laundry list of things to do, and I don't know what to do, we're going to do what we did before we even signed up for the summit, right? We're going to revisit our goals. So we're gonna see, we're gonna we're gonna rewrite out what our financial goals, our fundraising goals, and what our plans were already for how we were going to reach our goals, how many people we're going to serve, how many animals we're going to serve, how many environmental projects, we're going to start like rubber and put all that in front of our face again, so that we can come back with a clearer picture, because you're going to have heard all these amazing stories, and we need to bring it back home.

So we're bringing it home. And we'll take that list out that we did every single day, from the summit of the things that we thought were going to be the biggest impact. And we're gonna just start to put them together. Because after you attend an event, it's not going to completely change what you've already been doing. And you've already got a path. So now let's refine that path with some things that we learned. Let's add the things that make a difference. And let's go from there. So let's take a look at the things that we wrote down every day that were impactful. And let's put see how they fit in with what we said our goals already work. And maybe it might tweak some because maybe you found a more efficient way to do donor thank yous and So now, a lot of that dedicated time that you had sent for that, maybe it doesn't need to be as much, then we can add something else in there. Or maybe you got a great idea about a position you could hire in a grant that could support that. Well, great, okay, like all of these things are going to be tweaked and refined, but we want them to be tweaked and refined with purpose. I want you to not just throw everything, but the kitchen sink at your organization, when you come out of the summit, but really be thoughtful of these were the things that I know I'm going to make an impact on.

So then we take action. So we take a look at our day, we take a look at our week, we take a look at our month quarter, right? I like to plan in a 90 day cycle. So I like to take my annual goals and say, Okay, this is roughly what we're going to accomplish q1, q2, q3, q4, right. And you'll have some of those cycles already in your organization with when funding comes in annual fund grant funds, maybe you have enrollment periods, for your services that you provide, whatever, so we're going to take a look at our quarter. And then I know this is what I have to get done this quarter. And then I'm going to break it down every week, these are the things that I need to get done this week in order to get my quarterly goals done. And then this is what I need to get done today in order to hit my weekly goals. I think that's really important. Because then when you sit down at your desk, and you've come out of this summit, and you've got all these great ideas, you can chunk them out and put them into deadlines and put them into buckets.

So then you can say, Okay, well, I already have on my list this month that I need to get my email sequence ready, that's on my list. So based off of my calendar, I know I can do that on on week three of this month. So I'm going to go ahead and pencil that in. So when I get to week three, I see that as the main task for that month, or that week, I can go ahead and execute it and figure out which day of that week I can get that done. It just helps you to manage your calendar and your schedule. So maybe you take three days a week, or I'm sorry, three days a month, and that's your content generation days. And those are the days that you write all your blog posts for the next month, where you create all your social media where you do all of this stuff, right.

So if you have that blocked off on your calendar, because that's a skill that you learned at the summit was, you know, I need to be writing at least one or two blog posts a month, whatever. You block it off. So then if some if some other things are coming up in your calendar, and people are eating you for this or that, and you're like no, this is the strategy that we said that we were doing, this is the time that I have blocked off, it makes it easier for you to say no. And to say I can do that on Thursday that week, but I'm unavailable Monday through Wednesday, and just kind of a sidebar, but we need to not be so afraid to say I can't meet with you on this day I can meet with you later in the week, it's not going to turn into a no from a donor, it's not going to turn into like your organization falling down on top of you.

The more that you can manage your calendar, especially for the smaller shops, but it still works. No matter what the more that you can manage your calendar, the more effective you'll be. Because you can have days where you are literally uninterrupted at your desk focused on a specific set of tasks that require more brain power. And then you can have days where maybe you have multiple meetings going on and things of that nature. Okay. Anyway, regardless, we could do a whole episode about that.

So that's what I want you to do after assignment, I want you to take what you learned, I want you to figure out where you put that into your calendar, when you chunk out the time to do it, it does not need to happen right away. But if you really thoughtfully pull the pieces out that are going to make the biggest impact for your organization. That alone is going to support you in growing and then you can continue to add on later on and build as you go.

Okay, so if you have any questions about anything in here, any feedback, you can always hit us up at the first click marketing on Facebook or Instagram. Or join us in the private Facebook group facebook.com/groups/thefirstclick. But this is what I want you to think about before and after you go to a summit. Is this the right summit for you based off of the goals that you have? Is it going to be valuable? The events are usually always amazing. So it's going to be valuable, but is it valuable to you right now? Does it make sense for you right now. And then afterwards, don't throw out your existing to do list. Don't make it seem so crazy, but just start to put in these pieces as as you go so that you can implement and take action and see growth in your organization.

Okay. If you guys have any additional questions, like I said, hit us up on Facebook or Instagram otherwise, I really hope that you will subscribe and leave us a review wherever you listen to this episode. It just helps us get in front of more organizations and we appreciate you in doing that. It also gives me great feedback on content that You guys really like and things that we can do better to support you in your fundraising needs. With that, I thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next one.


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