How to Use Evernote to Create the Ultimate Post Conference Reference Guide

Now that Pubcon is over I’m going to let you in on a tool that helps me keep track of, organize, find, and use the information I get from conferences, trade shows, and seminars:  Evernote.

evernote_logo_center_4c-lrgThe company describes Evernote as an external brain. Your external brain. It remembers things so you don’t have to. Evernote is a clipping service with a browser based client, web interface, desktop application, and smart phone interface (it works on the iphone, blackberry, and others). Evernote is also cloud based, so information that’s added from your smartphone is sync’d to your desktop automagically. But enough promotional chatter. Let’s get down to some real world usage.

Once you’ve got an evernote account set up, you’re going to create a notebook for the conference. Think of it as a big bucket for holding all the Pubcon stuff. By default your notebooks are private, but you can share them with select people or the entire internet, which is what I’ve done with my Pubcon 2009 Notebook. Go ahead–take a look.

To make your notebook useful, you’ve got to put stuff in it like the conference schedule. While you could just as easily bookmark the page,  Evernote’s advantage lies in its technique. It actually stores the data from the page so that, when the 2010 schedule goes up and erases what’s there now, you’ll have a permanent record of 2009. The next thing I added was live blogging session posts from Outspoken Media, 10e20, Top Rank Online Marketing, and Search Marketing Sage. Normally I would have added Search Engine Roundtable too, but they are using a new app that doesn’t render the text on the page. Evernote can’t read it. ๐Ÿ™

Now that I’ve got all that content in my notebook, I can start doing searches. I heard the session about the Las Vegas Hotels using twitter was pretty interesting, so let’s do a search for [las vegas hotels twitter].   I get three live blogging recaps I can use for reference.

After the conference, you’ll get a CD with all the presentations; however, unless you remember where the information is or what its name is, sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. If you uploaded all the presentations to evernote, though, the content is fully searchable. Now there are some legal restrictions and some people don’t let their presentations go public, so for this notebook I only uploaded mine (since I’m pretty sure I can’t sue myself). However, if you keep your notebook private, you don’t have anything to worry about. Let’s say you remember something in a presentation about banned sites. Executing a quick search on [banned sites] brings up the presentation and the live blogging recaps.

You may be thinking, “Well this is all pretty neat, but can’t I do the same thing with a Google custom search engine?” You could if you only wanted to search text, but what about images? Evernote has some extra functionality. An example: maybe you’re really bad with names and faces. While evernote isn’t savvy enough to have facial recognition, if you are clever and take people’s pictures in front of their speaker cards, evernote can read the text. Can’t remember what Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide looks like? A quick search for [Jennifer Laycock] will bring up the picture you took. If you click through you’ll see it actually reads the text from her name card and highlights it in yellow.
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As long as you take the picture fairly straight on and not at an oblique angle, it works pretty well. Here’s another example. A search for [image indexing] returns a picture of  Bruce Clay in front of a slide with the words “image indexing” on it.

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Maybe that’s still not awesome enough for you. Have you ever lost a business card? If you use Evernote to take a picture of the card, you’ll have a picture of it and be able to get back in touch with that really smart person. Are you bad about losing your receipts? If so, you can use evernote to take a picture of the receipt so you can find it when your bookkeeper needs it. If your smart phone has GPS, it will also record the location for you. You can also scan the receipt and import that way, but you lose the nifty mapping functionality.


There are lots of other ways that you can use Evernote but, as a conference reference guide, it’s a pretty powerful tool. Evernote comes at two levels: free and paid. The paid product is $45 per year, which gives you a huge increase in upload file size, more file types, and a few other things too. Full details are available on the premium membership page.

Disclosure: This wasn’t a paid or sponsored post. This post contains no affiliate links. I wish there was an affiliate program because I would absolutely join it. My membership wasn’t comped or discounted. I paid the full price for a premium membership. If the nice folks at Evernote like this post and want to send me some swag or a t-shirt (x-large) it would make me almost as happy as batch of warm chocolate chip cookies ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks to Michael Dorausch of Planet C1 Chiropractic for allowing me to include his photos.

photo credit: TheLizardQueen runs on the Genesis Framework

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