March 19, 2013 by pmilleredu
Dear NASPA attendees,
If you attended the conference in Orlando this week you no doubt have amazing ideas, some great new books and a pile of business cards. People will ask you how the conference was and some departments may even have you report back on lessons learned. When that happens see that as a reminder of the opportunity to continue the discussions started here and share what we learned from sessions with your on-campus colleagues. When we unpack our bags and put all of our new books in our offices, they are sitting there as a constant reminder to read them. However, all of those business cards and new connections we made during the conference, Tweet-Ups, un-sessions, and all of post-session reflections can easily go into a drawer and be forgotten.
NASPA is nothing without its members and connections. We connect ideas, people, and resources. That is truly the benefit of having a Professional Organization. We make connections with dedicated professionals and we use those connections to further the profession and build a network. The strength of our network lies not in the ideas we gain, but in the personal connections.
I urge you to put those business cards on your desk in plain sight and do not file them away. Once you have had some time to reflect, decompress and return to a more normal sleeping and eating schedule, revisit those cards. Reach out to everyone whose email address you have. I get that it can be awkward, emailing someone you only spoke to once. You may be asking what you should say in that email. My advice is to keep it simple. If you attended a session, let them know how much you enjoyed it. If you connected with them during lunch, say how much you enjoyed the conversation. If you connected with them during a tweet-up, let them know how much you enjoyed finally meeting them ‘IRL’. You are probably seeing a pattern here; what you say does not need to be groundbreaking or especially loquacious nor does it need any particular purpose other than simply reaching out. The importance is to keep that connection going and make it personal.
Having been to a few years of NASPA conferences, my first few years I filed the cards and emails away and ended up forgetting about them. What good is making a connection if we are just going to abandon it once we get back to campus? Reach out to everyone you connected with. Some of those connections will turn into great relationships and mentoring. However, none of that happens from that drawer in your desk.
I had amazing conversations and I did not always get everyone’s contact information. For those of you I spoke to and now have no way to contact, know that I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. This is why I go to NASPA, to make connections, share ideas and learn new things.
Thank you all for an amazing conference I will see you all in Baltimore!
Thank you for reading,