Think about the last time you attended a seminar, workshop, or tradeshow. Got swag? So where is it? What do you usually do with those binders, notes, notebooks, and product samples from a continuing education event or tradeshow?
Chances are you come from the event and “put the swag bag down” for later. But if you did not have a concrete, immediate plan for it, “later” never came, and eventually, you got tired of stepping over that bag or having to move it from one place to the other. You decided to place it where it would not interfere with your daily life (i.e., where you could not see it anymore).
Swag Turns Clutter
Once you can’t see that material anymore, it is out of your mind. It does not interfere in your daily life, that’s true. But that means that you forget about it. Hence, a new bag to clutter your space!
If all that stuff is out of your mind, it is probably unimportant to you, and you do not need it. But why did you gather that material or samples in the first place? Probably is our automatic human reaction to grab anything free.
Make It Benefit You
Think of ways that material can benefit your present life, help you in your career, relationships, or whatever it might be. Then decide on concrete, appropriate steps to allow for that to happen.
This process takes intention and planning. It will not happen if you relegate that bag or binder full of notes and product samples where you won’t think about it.
What To Do with It
Here are some examples of what that process of paying attention to that material might look like:
- You took notes on the various seminars during the activity — to cement the knowledge in your brain, transcribe the notes by hand. Then, scan those notes and file the document in an electronic file related to the topic. If you have Evernote or the like, that’s another very convenient way to keep your information handy and classified.
- You received printed material that you already know is valuable and want to keep — scan it and follow the steps described above. If you want to keep the paper copies, make a file for this material.
- You collected sample items — Are you interested in trying those items? Place them where you are most likely to use them and try them! Did you collect the items for someone else? Place the things where you won’t forget to take them the next time you will see that person.
- There were recommendations about books, apps, or programs to try? — If you made notes on these, these interested you in the first place. Revisit each one of those and if it still sounds like a good idea, decide what needs to happen for you to act on it.
- Got ideas to develop during the event? — Don’t let it go to waste! Instead, assign a time on your calendar to make those things happen or develop the steps needed to obtain that goal. Then calendar those steps. What gets in the calendar gets done.
- Business cards — Scan them or input the information with appropriate notes into your iPhone. Then establish steps and dates to reach out to those contacts and explore possibilities together and network.
You can certainly develop more ways in which all that material gathered at that seminar, workshop, or tradeshow can continue giving and benefiting you. The important thing is to take the appropriate action about those ideas! You probably paid money to attend these events, and most definitely, you invested your time. Don’t let that go to waste. Learn how to get the most of these mysterious swag bags we love to collect, for they hold a wealth of possibilities!