A work conference or trade show can be a weird mix of exhausting and exhilarating. Many events mix a day packed with events with an evening filled with cocktail parties, dinners, and informal bar gatherings. You can make new contacts, land another client, or start to lock down your next job.

That's all great, but it can leave you ready to walk off the plane and into a few days of doing nothing afterwards. And that's exactly the wrong thing to do. If you're just back from a work event, now's the time to do a postmortem on the show, make notes on what happened, and follow up on any contacts you made (or at least make a plan to do so).

People talk at a business event.

Meeting someone is only the start of getting them into your network. Image source: Getty Images.

Keep up you momentum

Meeting someone in real life can create some very positive feelings. It's important to cement that relationship by communicating fairly quickly after the show or conference ends. You don't want to ask for anything. Just send a note about how it was nice to meet the person and follow up on anything you promised to follow up on for them.

If you had agreed to set up a call or a meeting, it's fine to get the ball rolling on that. It's important, however, to not be pushy or try to do anything more than grow your network unless it was specifically discussed at the show.

When a contact was more causal or social, it's also OK to follow the person on social media -- LinkedIn makes the most sense, but Twitter or Facebook is not inappropriate. The Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is for business, but it the person has work friends on Facebook or work-related posts on Twitter, then it's fine to use those.

The goal is to reinforce the relationship while everyone still has warm and fuzzy feelings about the event you all mutually attended. Think of it like a trip in high school where you meet new people from different social groups. You may wave at those folks in the halls for a few weeks, but if you don't have another interaction beyond the trip, you won't become real friends.

Put the work in

When you get back from a work conference or trade show, you probably have all sorts of things you want to get done based on what you learned or who you met. In addition to following up on contacts, you should also make a list of action items from the event.

That might be as simple as passing on some info to your boss. It could mean making some followup sales calls, sending out materials, or debriefing with people who did not make the trip. Whatever needs doing, do it, because it will become harder if you let it sit.

Yes, you deserve some time off (well, at least a weekend), and you should take some after you have finished making the most of your event and/or travel. Consider these post-show efforts sort of like unpacking. If you wait to do it, it won't get any easier (and waiting may actually cause things to get worse).