…Okay, do not do this literally because now and days that is just asking for a lawsuit. And I am sure we have all sat through some type of Sexual Harassment training that has taught us the importance of keeping our hands to ourselves in a work setting.
But I digress, this is really about creating partnerships on campus to benefit students and help achieve learning outcomes. I have been working at SSU for a brief amount of time and still have lots of work to do in this area, but have already created some great relationships that will only continue to develop and be extremely beneficial for students. So these are some tips and tricks I learned along the way to help make this happen.
1. Reach out – Do not wait for someone to approach you because it is not likely to happen. Everyone on a college campus is busy, and in their mind probably more busy than you are. Obviously, this is not necessarily the case but an excuse. Be the person to initiate the relationship. Go to events on campus where there is a large congregation of staff and faculty members you may not know. Convocation would be a perfect example. Introduce yourself to people and take note of who is speaking at these events and these areas. If your HR office does some type of awards, find the nominees and award winners. These people clearly care about what they are doing and are more than likely going above and beyond their job descriptions. Tap into these resources. Set-up a time to meet. Which leads to number two…
2. Come with an agenda – This should not be a discrete black-ops mission. Make sure the person you are meeting with has an idea as to why you are meeting. A meeting does not always need to be about work. However, if you are meeting about work, a nice heads up to the person is appropriate. This will allow the person to generate some ideas and be on the same page for your time together. Remember that everyone prepares differently, so allow the person the opportunity to prepare by giving them an idea of where you want to take the conversation.
3. Do a little research – Some of you may be groaning because you just saw the word research, but trust me it is minimal at best. Look at the office website and read the info about the person you are meeting with especially if this is your first encounter. Ask other people in your office or area about the person too. Learn about what they are passionate about and find commonalities. A great example is with one of our on-campus advisors for a Greek lettered organization. She just started this advisor role and I did a little searching to find that she got a new position on campus. I was able to ask her about her transition to her new job. This led to a discussion about white identity development and masculinity, something we both have a passion to study. Now we are working on creating a workshop series in the spring to explore some of these areas with students, faculty, and staff. This all stemmed from a couple clicks of the mouse and voila some great programming is going to come from this relationship.
4. Make sure you understand what you can bring to the table – Anytime you are creating a campus partnership or relationship, always know that it needs to be a two-way street. Both sides need to benefit. Know what you can contribute and be able to articulate that during conversations. Again, that “r” word research strikes its ugly head. Know what the other side wants to accomplish and think about how you can help them achieve their goals or actualize their outcomes. Use your available resources to help them and more than likely they will help you in return. Always remember that resources are more than just money. Attend an event the other office may be holding. Offer to do programming or in-service professional development on a topic in which you have some expertise. Give a little to get a little. Give a lot to get a lot. A quote that I use to describe this concept is “Scared money don’t make money.” You have to be willing to give up something to get something in return.
5. Be genuine – I feel that this is the most important part of the process. Create relationships and partnerships because you want to and not because you feel you have to. It takes time and energy to start and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with another person or office. Know what you are getting yourself into and be yourself throughout. Let your authentic self show in your conversations. Your natural passion for a topic or area will help invigorate others. And if it does not, then do not beat your head against the wall to make it happen. Find someone else out there who has the same vision you do. There is someone. It may take some time, but there will be someone.
These five have been good to me so far. Is there something that has worked for you? What would you add to this list?
Until next time…