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?