NAFSA 2013 has just finished and hopefully all of us have fully recuperated and our feet have returned to normal size after all that walking and standing. I thought after all the events of this extremely busy week I would take the time to recap some of my favorite activities and events.
First of all, I want to thank everyone who came out to the Tweet Ups and to the first ever #TweetIEs. They both were a huge success. We had over 40 people attend the first Tweet Up and about 30 attend the second Tweet Up on Friday. We were averaging about 50 tweets an hour using the #TweetIEs hashtag during conference hours which is way more than I expected. Everyone who participated definitely helped make this new event a huge success and this was much appreciated. I hope we can continue this in the future. If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to leave them here or tweet me!
As always, I enjoyed all the networking opportunities that NAFSA offered as well as the chance to catch up with all my colleagues, friends, and acquaintances that I only get to see once a year at this monster event. My favorite reception had to be the Rainbow SIG's bash at Hamburger Mary's which was a drag show. That was the highlight of the week and it seemed that everyone was there. That Rainbow SIG definitely knows how to throw a reception. Way to celebrate 20 years! Of course NAFSA is not all about the receptions. :) I was able to meet with numerous partners as well as potential partners. I even presented a few times to packed rooms and received some positive feedback from my presentations. All in all even though I exhausted myself thoroughly, I made the most of my time in St. Louis and made as many connections as I could. I am just sad that I couldn't attend more sessions since there seemed to be many great sessions listed on the schedule this year.
As many of you know I am on NAFSA National and Regional leadership at the moment in additional to presenting and doing my "little" day job duties. This basically means my time is not my own at the Annual Conference. However, this doesn't mean I couldn't fit in a little fun (outside the receptions) while in St. Louis. I was able to try the extremely sinful Gooey Butter Cake and I rode the tram to the top of the Arch. The tram is definitely not for those that are claustrophobic in the least. Think little round ball riding up the arch. The view was worth it though and it is something I can check off my least.
What was your favorite part of the NAFSA 2013 Annual Conference? It can be a session, reception, site you visited, or a food you ate. Let me know! Talk to you soon.
The NAFSA Annual Conference is just around the corner. I have been asked by many newbies to the conference if I have any tips and tricks to help them get through a very intense and exhausting week of activities. Below are my top tips and tricks for surviving the NAFSA Annual Conference. They are in no particular order and feel free to chime in if you have others.
1. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Ladies leave the high heels at home. You will regret wearing them at the end of the first day. One reason I say this is that the convention center tends to be huge and you could have to walk about a half a mile or more just to get from one meeting room to another. Additionally, the hotels are not all located right next door and neither are the restaurants for the receptions. So you will be doing a lot of walking and in many cases will need to do so quickly. You will notice most people are in their sneakers by Thursday or Friday.
2. Leave time between meetings. This one has gotten me many times. I book meetings back to back and forget that it will take me at least 10-15 minutes to get from the meeting spot to the exhibit hall (and find the booth I need) or vice versa. You need to leave time between meetings so you can transport yourself across vast distances.
3. A few money saving tips. Use the receptions for your dinners and other meals. Many of us get invited to multiple receptions every night. They normally don't have dinner but they usually have enough snacks that you can make a meal if you attend 2-3. This goes the same for breakfast meetings and luncheons. Plus, let's be honest, you will not have time to sit down for a real dinner or meal all week so you need to eat when you can.
4. Buy a power pack to charge your devices. If you are anything like me and are connected all the time via social media, email, etc., you will need an extra battery pack to charge your devices during the day because they will not survive from the beginning of the day to the end without a little help. I just purchased one and wish I had it several conferences ago. Click here to view the one I purchased. It seems to work pretty well.
5. Drink lots of water! I say this not only because it is good for your body in general but for several others reasons. One you will be doing a lot of talking and you don't want to lose your voice. Many of my friends lose their voice by the end of the conference. This may still happen but at least you can prolong it from happening possibly. Also, the convention center and the hotel rooms tend to be really dry and dry everything out including your throat. I always carry a bottle of water around with me and fill it up often during the day. They generally have either drinking fountains or portable water to fill up with around the convention center for everyone.
6. Have a plan of attack for the expo hall. The Expo Hall is huge. There are literally hundreds of booths throughout this massive space. This means if you are planning on gleaning any information from this expo hall you need to know who you want to visit and which booths you definitely want to stop by. If you don't, you will get lost in this massive space. Believe it or not I have gotten lost in there at least once every year. The booths all look alike after awhile. I suggest creating a list of those exhibitors you want to visit and then organize them by their booth number. Then start at one end of the Expo Hall and work your way to the other. You will need to do this over the course of several days since unless you are planning on spending 3-4 hours or more in the Expo Hall at one time, you will not be able to make it to all the exhibitors on your list at one time.
7. If you are presenting, do not count on the internet working. Make sure you include screen shots in your presentation in case the internet doesn't work. I have given too many presentations and been in too many rooms where the internet doesn't work or is so slow you can't do what you want. This also includes embedding videos into your presentation vs. counting on the internet to play them. If the internet works great but, if not you still can show what you want people to see.
These are some of my favorite tips and tricks for newbies to the NAFSA conference as well as a refresher for the veterans. If you have any great tips please let feel free to add them here.
Here is another in my series of guest bloggers from the international education field. In this post we will hear from Gloria Angel, Assistant Director at Temple's CIBER program. She is relative new to social media but has found even the small things make a huge difference. Enjoy!
"How does social media influence your international education job?"
It has completely changed the way my job was done before I started. Using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn & WordPress, I have been able to communicate with more students to get the message out there. I work with business students and historically they did not see how they would be able to fit a study abroad semester into their academic career. In 2001 we sent 17 business students to two different locations. Last year we were able to send almost 200 students to 22 locations so the word is getting out. When students are going to a new place, I ask them if they are interested in blogging and give them a video camera and set up an account on WordPress. I have a script of suggestions for topics that they can talk about but the students really take and run with it. Some blogs are more http://www.fox.temple.edu/ciber/blogs.html
"How did you get into social media?"
I like listening to local bands and music that is not played on the radio. After a show one night, someone directed me to their MySpace page. I can’t remember when I opened a Facebook account but I had a MySpace account before that and also Friendster, years ago. I’ve always thought they were interesting mediums of communication. I was using it personally, didn’t start using it for work purposes until 2004.
"What is one social media tool you cannot live without now?"
I’m always checking Facebook but TweetDeck is the easiest to use so that I can update everything at once. Also Skype.
"What is one thing you wish you knew about social media that would have made getting involved with it easier?"
I wish I would have known about TweetDeck earlier, it would have saved a lot of time.
"What do you think social media's biggest impact has been on international education?"
Getting the information out about little known programs in different places. Showing students the process so that they are not blindly searching for anything to get them out of the country. Also giving them a bird’s eye view of something outside of their comfort zone via other students who blog. The students also give good travel & housing tips in country.
"Why do you continue to use social media?"
It’s the easiest & quickest way to get a message out to students and have them respond in kind. Especially with everything that has been happening lately with political unrest & natural disasters, we can communicate with them and get a rapid response to see if they are alright. It’s a great marketing tool that reaches the masses. I also like it because students who graduated a few years ago and are looking to reconnect or chat about what has been going on in their lives find it easier to reach out. Several alumni have actually contacted me with internship opportunities for current students so the outreach widens and starts to influence other areas.
About the Guest Blogger
Gloria Angel is currently the Assistant Director of the CIBER program at Temple University. She is extremely involved with NAFSA at the regional level and has coordinated this year's conference in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA.
Here is guest blog post from a colleague in the field who was one of the early adopters of social media. Sarah, or @srah, was one of the first people to really start actively using Twitter for both personal as well as International Education purposes.
Here is what she had to say about how social media.
How does social media influence your international education job?
I use social media to communicate with students and with colleagues on campus and around the world. Social media is the type of web technology that fosters interaction and conversation, which is helpful in a lot of different aspects of my work: getting information about study abroad programs, sharing it with students, answering students’ questions and collaborating with colleagues on projects.
How did you get into social media?
My master’s degree is in Information, with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction (this has to do with making websites and other information systems user-friendly so that people have straightforward access to the information they’re seeking). In my graduate school environment, I was surrounded by early adopters, testing out and evaluating the latest social media trends. I decided to follow a different career path than any of my graduate school classmates did, but many of them are working in the Internet/social media industry and continue to be a great resource to find out about the latest hot gadgets, widgets, apps and platforms. It was from these friends that I first learned about Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and most of the other social media systems that I use today.
What is one thing you wish you knew about social media that would have made getting involved with it easier?
For people who are hesitant about trying out social media, I think the most valuable thing to know is that it’s okay to participate passively, or “lurk” for as long as you want before jumping in yourself. You can start a Twitter account, for example, and follow other Twitter feeds to see what other people are saying. Click on some things and see what they do! A lot of social media (and new technology in general) is best learned by trying and tinkering. You’ll probably feel more involved and more interested in continuing this once there’s a two-way conversation going on, but it’s fine to just hang around and observe until there’s something you want to contribute.
If you’re looking for people to follow or things to learn, check out the #studyabroad or #nafsa11 hashtags to see what people are saying on those topics.
What is one social media tool you cannot live without now?
Twitter is great and Facebook is pretty darn essential, but in the past month or so, I’ve also gotten hooked on the microblogging platform Tumblr. If I had to describe Tumblr, it would be a cross between LiveJournal and Twitter. It can be used for keeping a blog, or just for sharing short thoughts, images and videos. It also has a “reblogging” feature analogous to a “retweet” so that you can share interesting things you find, and posts have an opportunity to go viral.
The Tumblr community has a pretty young demographic, so I’ve found a lot of posts from students who are preparing to study abroad, currently abroad, or dealing with re-entry issues. I’ve been doing my own Tumblr about study abroad and international travel, including series on famous people and fictional characters who studied abroad.
Why do you continue to use social media?
Using social media is about meeting students where they are. Young people are very likely to try out and use new media. And increasingly, it is about meeting our colleagues where they are, too. I’ve made all kinds of connections and discovered new things by communicating with study abroad colleagues through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
It’s also a way to get quick updates on things happening around the world. I’ve found that I’m likely to get important breaking news updates through Twitter or Facebook before I get them through any traditional news sources. It’s not just useful for sharing professional information or promoting study abroad to students, but – as we’ve seen in various emergency and protest situations around the world - could be useful for individuals’ and organizations’ health, safety and well-being.
What do you think social media's biggest impact has been on international education?
I think tools like Twitter and LinkedIn have been very useful for meeting and collaborating with my colleagues in international education around the world. Social media is, of course, useful for communicating with students, but I think that what I enjoy most is the camaraderie of the online NAFSA communities. There are many people in this field that I’ve gotten to know quite well before even meeting them face-to-face. Conferences come once a year (or twice or three or four times…) but these are tools we can use year-round.
Sarah McNitt is a study abroad advisor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She enjoys guiding students through international opportunities, fiddling with new technology, watching musical theatre, drinking tea and collecting trivia. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with her via: Twitter | LinkedIn | Tumblr | Email | Website
If you are interested in being a guest blogger please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since it is that time of year and many of us are preparing for the 2011 NAFSA Annual Conference in Vancouver I thought I would write a post about how to make the most of the annual conference, whether you can be there or not, by using social media.
First of all, I wanted to mention that my cell phone provider is Verizon and they told me that any texting I do will be part of my normal package so I plan on communicating primarily through these means. So if you have Verizon this may be a good way to go. You can use your texts to update your Facebook and Twitter accounts even when you cannot access the internet so this is a nice, inexpensive alternative.
Second, I want to say - Make Use of Your Resources. This is extremely important. For this I am mostly talking about social media but this also pertains to networking in general. This can mean the people you know, the sessions you attend, the receptions you go to, etc. You can learn quite a bit from the simply conversations you have with people in passing at any of the above events.
Now in terms of social media, the NAFSA Annual Conference is a hot bed of activity for those both at the conference and those that are unable to attend but you are using social media. If you haven't started using Twitter or something like this, NOW is the time. There will be thousands of tweets happening from the sessions, official and unofficial TweetUps, receptions, information meetings, and the exhibit halls. So you can find out what is happening even if you can't be in the other session you want to or if you can't be there at all. In addition, if you can't be there you can also ask questions and many times others tweeting will see these questions and either answer or ask the presenter for you and get the answer.
For those attending the conference, I want to highly recommend you attend the TweetUps to meet others using social media technology. Plus, I have been assured there will be free wifi for the TweetUps so it is your chance to take advance of this plus meet a great group of people!
I also love all the pictures people post of attendees in action. This could be of presentations, the exhibit hall, receptions, whatever so if you are going this is your chance to let everyone know what they are missing :) and encourage people to attend a session.
I also encourage everyone who has a social media account or who is thinking of having one to start using it before the session to find out what the popular sessions will be, the popular events, and the great places to visit in Vancouver will be. You can also ask questions so you can head to Vancouver ready to hit the ground running since it is a sprint not a marathon of a conference.
Finally, I would like to suggest that everyone log in and create a profile using the NAFSA Conference Connection so you can set up your agenda and schedule meetings with organizations/institutions you want to meet with and so you don't double or triple book yourself (not that I ever did that :)).
I hope you have found these suggestions useful and hope to see many of you in a few weeks in Vancouver.
I recently gave a presentation on Advocating in a Web 2.0 World and thought that would be a good topic of discussion for my blog. When people think of social media many times they don't think of advocating for their causes using social media. Well, I want to tell you it is extremely easy to advocate for your chosen cause using social media. If you can tweet or retweet, blog, and/or write a Facebook post then you can advocate.
Since one of my areas of focus is International Education I want to mention how easy it is to advocate using social media and this field as an example. Basically, there are a number of tools you can use to advocate for this cause. You can follow blogs, tweets, and Facebook pages. In addition, almost every Congressperson and Representative has a Facebook and/or Twitter account that you can follow/like. If you do this then you can post messages to their walls and retweet messages and mention them using their Twitter name. Furthermore, almost every government agency has a Facebook page and most have a Twitter account which means you can follow the agencies that pertain to your field/cause. Twitter also has lists already created so all you need to do is follow the list and you will be kept up-to-date on the happens of the people on the list. For example, their is a Twitter list for republicans as well as democrats.
Finally, some tips on proper etiquette when it comes to interacting with people you want to advocate with or to. One of the biggest tips is to proofread everything before you click submit. Grammatical errors can take away from the message you are trying to send. In addition, don't write an anonymous message. Make sure to leave your name. This gives more credence to your message. Finally, if you are going to tweet or send a Facebook message make sure you don't post all of your tweets or posts at once. It is better to spread them out during the day and there are tools available to assist with that so you don't have to be at your computer to even send the messages.
Some of the resources you can look into specifically for International Education and advocacy are:
http://www.nafsa.org - which has blogs, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, etc.
http://www.connectingourworld.org - a grassroots resource for International Education
If you are interested in additional resources which are available to advocate for international education please let me know. I am happy to provide the resources I have collected so far. Talk to you again soon.
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.