Capitalizing on Your Conference Experience
Are you excited to travel for your sorority officer position?! I love the eager anticipation before a conference uncertain what you’re going to learn or who you’ll connect with. Whether you are going on behalf of your community or chapter, here are a few tips to ensure you get the most out of your experience:
1. Be hydrated & nourished!
I learned the hard way that you cannot survive on coffee and protein bars until the group dinner at a conference. Just because you are out of your routine and want to prioritize caffeine over nutrition, here’s your friendly reminder that coffee is not a meal. Please prioritize drinking water and making time for meals before and between sessions. You can even take that new friend that you’re mid conversation with between sessions with you to grab something to eat or refill your water bottle!
2. Set aside time to bond and reflect with your council
A fun element of conferences is getting closer with the officers you just got elected to serve with. Instead of feeling the pressure of spending every moment with those you’re traveling with to not miss out on anything, schedule time for your council to bond! By setting aside time for your team to reflect on what you learned and are excited to bring back, you will feel freed up to go to sessions by yourself, get to know officers from campuses across the country or region, and actually sleep at night.
3. Focus on meeting, connecting, and relating to officers from other organizations or campuses
There will never be another time where there will be MORE of your peers who understand what you’re going through. These conferences will be packed with officers just like you, managing similar pressures, stressors, and reality of being a sorority leader. Get to know them! Instead of spending all your time glued to the sisters you came to the conference with, create connections with sisters with slightly different campus cultures, best practices, and experiences that you can learn from.
4. Turn your phone on DND during the day
Ditch the distractions! You came so far and have sacrificed your time to grow as a sorority leader – do yourself the favor of being fully present during the day. Check your email, call your mom, text your friends, and post on social media in the mornings or evenings but savor every moment of the conference experience fully present.
5. Go to different sessions than your council
Divide and conquer is the ideal strategy for tackling sorority conference sessions! If your whole council goes to one session per education block, the impact you can bring back to your community is limited to those sessions. Strategize with your council which officer positions should attend which sessions and allow other officers to learn about topics that they are interested in to grow as a leader. At the end of the conference, your council can come together and each officer can share what they learned and the impact they want to make as a result of attending their specific sessions. The information brought back by your individual officers collectively bringing what they learned
6. Take pictures!!
Document your experience! Take photos in sessions and tag speakers, record your officers talking about their experience throughout the conference, and group photos. All of the content you take and create can be used to promote your council’s investment in leadership development and the impact the conference will have on the community!
7. Ask questions and get to know the presenters
The session speakers, facilitators, and presenters are there for YOU. They prepared a session on a relevant topic to help YOU. If you have follow up questions or want to get to know them better, don’t be afraid to catch them after the session or have a follow up conversations with them over coffee. At the very least, stay connected with them on social media to continue learning from them throughout your term!
While I am certain each and every one of you is hyper aware of this, I want to remind you that attending a conference on behalf of your chapter or community is a high honor! It’s a privilege to have the exposure to other campus cultures, fraternity & sorority educators, and opportunities to grow your personal leadership. Take the experience seriously and challenge those you’re traveling with to do the same.
If you’re headed to AFLV Central, SGLA, or AFLV West, be sure to check out the sessions I’ll be presenting! Head to @hersororityjourney on Instagram to see our full schedule. Cannot wait to see you at a conference soon, sister!