#ACUI13: Reflections from home

As most of you who read my blog probably know, this week is the Association of College Unions-International’s (ACUI) Annual Conference in St. Louis, which is hosted by my super talented friend and colleague, Erin Morrell.  I, of course, am sitting in my office in Maine (not St. Louis), reading the conference back channel #ACUI13 and feeling very jealous (don’t feel bad for me, I am missing the conference as I am going to Orlando for a vacation with my family at the end of the week).  I am jealous, though, not about all the wonderful content I am missing, but the people.

You see, for me, while the things I learn at a conference are great, it is the people that keep me coming back.  It’s the tweets, texts, and phone calls from colleagues, now friends, from across the country during the conference that make me miss it the most.  Much of the information being presented, sure, I will be able to access or could find somehow.  Information is at our fingertips and is more accessible than ever.  The conversations with colleagues, the networking, and the peer-to-peer learning is irreplaceable.  Yes, we have Twitter, but there is something more powerful about breaking bread together, having informal chats, or just connecting in person.

What I miss the most, though, is the energy that surrounds the ACUI Conference.  The sessions, the networking, the reconnecting with friends all help accomplish one thing for me. During this crazy time of year my friends in ACUI Region 1 like to call Maprilay (March-April-May), the conference causes me to re-energize and focus as a professional.  It always helps me remember the importance of the work I do and that I have people around me (literally and via mobile devices) that support me and understand my profession.  Though I know it is always there, ACUI reminds me of this.

I am thankful I am able to read all the tweets and live/learn vicariously through those who are at the conference.  

Friends at #ACUI13: what are you enjoying most about the conference thus far?  

What do you gain most from conference attendance?

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Advice for New Tweeps

This time of year, our #sachat community on Twitter grows as more professionals and students join Twitter at a conference. This has been true at #ACUI12. If you are new to Twitter, or are coming back after a long break, here is some advice….

1) Be authentic – put simply, be on Twitter who you are in person. You will have the opportunity to meet many of your Twitter connections in real life.
2) Learning and lurking is OK – I spent most of my first year on Twitter reading and following. I learned a lot about student affairs and Twitter by doing this.
3) Find your voice – our community loves new voices and new ideas. #sachat is great for asking questions to other professionals, but it is only effective if we all commit to engaging when we have something to share. If you have an answer to a question that was posed, or an idea to share, share it!
4) No egg shells, please – put up a profile picture. We want to see your face!
5) Write your bio – create a bio that tells us who you are.
6) Do not protect your tweets – Twitter is meant to be a conversation platform. If you say something worth sharing, I can’t retweet it if your tweets are protected.
7) Learn the lingo – there are some great resources to help you learn the ins and outs of Twitter. My favorite resource is on my friend Ed Cabellon’s Blog. There are many posts that will get you started.
8) Remember, BE AUTHENTIC

For those new to Twitter, what other questions do you have? For those #sachat vets, what further recommendations do you have?

ACUI Volunteers

Today was my first day in Boston for the 2012 ACUI Annual Conference. The CPT and Central Office Staff did a phenomenal job welcoming us and kicking the conference off to a fabulous start.

The thing that stood out most today was the Volunteer Meeting. For those who don’t know, I am in my 3rd year as a Region 1 volunteer. Nothing has been more valuable to my growth as a new professional than my ACUI involvement. I was both impressed and inspired by the number of folks who came to the conference early to connect with other volunteers and engage in meaningful discussions together.

Conference keynote Dr. Shane Lopez talked about the power of hope for the future. The energy of my fellow volunteers left me with hope for the future in 3 ways.

1) Hope for the future of the Association
2) Hope for the future of our field
3) Hope for my personal continued involvement as an ACUI volunteer

For those who volunteer with a professional organization: what do you gain from it? For those who don’t, what is stopping you?

Preparing for #ACUI12

I am thrilled to be heading to Boston for the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Annual Conference next week.  In preparation for the conference, I have the following goals:

  • RELATE: I am actively involved in Region 1 and am very excited to reconnect with old friends.  However, I want to branch out and meet new folks from outside of the Region.  I am also looking forward to meeting, in real life (IRL), many colleagues I have come to know and learn from via Twitter.
  • REFLECT: I was honored to be asked to blog from the conference!  I will be blogging right here and will be sharing what I am learning, who I am meeting as well as random thoughts and photos.  This will be a great way for me to immediately reflect on my experience.  I will also be active on Twitter @timstjohn using the #ACUI12 hashtag.
  • REACT: As I take full advantage of all the knowledge being shared at the Conference, I will create an action plan for my department upon returning to campus.  I will also share relevant knowledge with colleagues outside of my department.

What are you looking forward to most from your ACUI (or other) Conference experience?