An Open Letter to First Time ACUHO-I Attendees


Dear First Time ACUHO-I Attendees,

In a few short days, university housing professionals across the globe will come to Anaheim, CA for the ACUHO-I conference and Exposition (ACE).  For the first time delegate, this can be an overwhelming experience.  Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

1)     Make a plan: The conference schedule is available on-line (http://www.acuho-i.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1046) so you can go through each day and identify which sessions, meetings and activities are of interest to you. Sessions tend to fill up quickly so try to arrive early.  Familiarize yourself with the layout of the convention center in order to feel more comfortable with where everything is.  This prep work will pay off because you will begin each day with a sense of order—you can always revise as necessary!

2)     Remember that every person you meet is a potential future colleague—or your next supervisor:  Take advantage of it.  Put your best foot forward and take every opportunity to meet new people.  Much of the socializing occurs in the evenings through various dinners, receptions and events.  Take a break in the middle of the day if you need to re-charge but don’t pass up these nighttime activities as they are opportunities to meet with other housing professionals and learn more about their institutions.  You might just end up with an invitation to interview at their school because of it!

3)      Don’t Avoid the Exhibit Hall: There is a tendency to avoid going into the Exhibit Hall if you do not (yet) have purchasing power.  I highly suggest meeting vendors even if you are not the departmental purchasing agent. You can still learn about the various products and bring back recommendations to your department—which only re-affirms the investment that your department made in you by sending you to the conference!

Ask your supervisor to give you a list of all of the vendors that your department uses.  Then you can use that list to introduce yourself to the companies that support your institution.  Don’t know what to say to the vendors? Simply introduce yourself and tell them “thank you for your support of ACUHO-I” and ask to know a little more about their product.  Bring your business cards in order to enter into the various raffles that take place in the Exhibit Hall.

4)     Share your Knowledge: On Twitter?  Be sure to tweet out the new info you learn from sessions by using the #acuhoi hashtag.  Follow the feed to read about what other attendees are learning.  Meet others at the Tweet-Up scheduled for the Saturday night of the conference.

5)     Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: One of my colleagues (a first time attendee and an introvert 🙂 told me that he plans to go up to people who are sitting alone at the conference and introduce himself.  He is focusing on building 1-1 relationships and this strategy is smart, meaningful and requires a bit of bravery.  I know it will pay off tenfold.

6)     Consider Investing in ACUHO-I: To continue to support the development of housing professionals, our organization has a year-round campaign to raise money for the ACUHO-I foundation.  My first year at the conference I gave $8.  Each year I have increased my financial commitment because I believe in investing in this association that has invested so much in me.

Consider making a small donation at the conference.  To learn more about their good work, check out:  http://www.acuho-i.org/OurFoundation/tabid/58/Default.aspx

7)    Introduce Yourself to Each Parthenon Recipient:  ACUHO-I’s most prestigious award, The Parthenon Award, recognizes supreme achievement in the profession, outstanding service, leadership, and contributions to the field of campus housing.  This award is given to a few individuals each year and they are championed by people who raise money in secret in support of their nomination.  Winners are announced at the conference.  To be recognized by your peers in this way symbolizes admiration, support and gratitude for a person who is viewed as a pillar of the profession.  There is much to learn by the people who are recognized as Parthenon recipients.  Introduce yourself and congratulate them.  They are exceptional people to know!

It is my hope that you will find, as I have, a professional home in ACUHO-I.  Have questions during the conference?  Feel free to send me a direct message via Twitter (@annmarieklotz).

What tips do you have to assist other first time delegates at ACUHO-I?  

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About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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10 Responses to An Open Letter to First Time ACUHO-I Attendees

  1. Great post Ann Marie. The ACUHO-I conference can be an overwhelming experience for the first time attendee, so I’m sure the tips you’ve outlined will help to alleviate that feeling of anxiety.

    As an international delegate, I’m a huge advocate for the inclusion of the global perspective. My advice to other international attendees is to not be afraid to share your perspective in a session. A lot of sessions use American terms and language, so providing other delegates with an idea of what that means or how that works in your home country is a great way to connect and share your experience.

    Also, just to clarify, the tweet-up is planned for the Saturday evening, being built in to the Opening Reception. 7-7:45pm on the Hilton Deck, in the funnel cake area 🙂

    • Thanks Kate! I appreciate you adding the international perspective here. I updated the post to reflect the Tweet-Up info–thanks for catching that!! See you very soon 🙂

  2. Mason Reuter says:

    Great post Ann Marie! These are great tips for any and all attendees!

    I definitely encourage evveryone to take advantage of the Exhibit Hall! Drop a card, fill out a contact form and spend some time chatting with the Reps so that you can begin developing partnerships! While you may not be a decision maker today, hopefully you will be in the future! It also greatly increases your chances of taking home a new Ipad, Gift Card, Kindle Fire or other wonderful giveaway!

    Thanks again, I look forward to connecting in Anaheim! See you at the Tweet-Up

  3. Marty Takimoto says:

    Nicely done, Anne Marie! I shared your blog link on the 2012 ACE Facebook page!

  4. Great post, Ann Marie! The first ACUHO-I I went to was back in Vegas and I went to every single session, social, etc. I was absolutely brain-fried and started having difficulty processing all of the new information. I have decided that sometime it’s OK to take a break in the middle of the day (as you mentioned) and sit down and take some notes and process what you have learned. And as an introvert, it also gives me the recharge to hit those nighttime activities!

  5. Great tips – please let me know if you have any additional tips for first time exhibitors at ACUHO-I. I will be representing Sears Commercial in the exhibit hall. We have worked with many college and university housing departments across the country for decades; however our work (until now) has been fragmented in higher education and student housing. We are very excited to participate, learn, and network with ACUHO-I the next few days!

  6. Karen Kalal Rosenthal says:

    Great post! Although I’ve been to national conferences before, I’ve never been to ACUHO-I and my introverted self appreciates the information and needs the little boost to get myself out there networking and meeting as many wonderful professionals as possible! Have a great conference!

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