Top 10 List: Tips for NAFSA Follow-up

by Dr. Dane Claussen
Athena Study Abroad

1. We hope you took a little time to decompress from NAFSA, with a day off, or at least taking it easy the rest of the day on Friday and all weekend. If you didn’t, pencil that in for next year.

2. Make a definite plan about how to follow-up on your NAFSA attendance, which means scheduling time for that follow-up. In the first day or two (or three) back from NAFSA, you probably are overwhelmed with emails, phone calls and necessary meetings that have accumulated while you were gone.  However try to get back to NAFSA followup as quickly as you can before you forget the meaning of cryptic notes, the context or perceived importance of other notes, etc.

3. Type your notes from sessions that you attended, and not just because typing them will help you remember what you learned (most good students know this!)  Also because you will likely want to…

4. Share your typed notes with anyone else who would benefit (your co-workers who weren’t at the same sessions and meetings that you were, your supervisor, faculty who lead study abroad programs, other university officials depending on the topic).

5. Keep your typed notes to help you summarize and discuss your NAFSA attendance in your office’s annual report, strategic plan, budget documentation, etc.

6. From all of your notes you took at NAFSA, write a separate, prioritized (by date and/or urgency) “To Do” list. (But see #9.) Too often conference attendees put aside notes from a conference, intend to come back to them and then don’t. It’s a waste at the very least.

7. Circulate materials that you picked up at NAFSA to relevant co-workers. Everyone picks up flyers, brochures, booklets, etc., at NAFSA, and it’s easy to leave all of that in a pile. If necessary, make photocopies of what you picked up, or scan materials and distribute scans by email.

8. Collect slides and handouts.  Some sessions are excellent and right on point for issues you are facing in your office, but maybe the speaker(s) did not distribute handouts and your notes are not complete. You could email the speaker(s) and ask him/her to share with you the session’s PowerPoint slides or other material that was presented but not distributed and/or not available online or in other easily available locations.

9. Take time to connect – it’s not all business. Your “To Do” list probably will consist entirely of substantive follow-ups, tasks that are central to your work. Those are important and that’s normal. But also take time to send emails, text messages, Facebook posts, etc., to new and old friends just saying things such as, “Great to see you at NAFSA! It sounds like your daughter is doing really well, and thanks for telling me about your trip last month to Moldova!” or something similar.  Making connections with good people is the real reason we do what we do!

10. Don’t try to do everything at once. It will take you at least several days to catch up at work and at home, plus specifically follow-up on NAFSA, even when it’s during the summer. And congratulate yourself on navigating a 10,000-person conference!

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