5 ways to put your Convention learnings into practice
I’ve come away from the three intense days at Fundraising Convention bursting with new ideas, inspired to invigorate processes and products in my own organisation, and with new contacts to help progress those ideas and my career.
However – and this is something you may relate to – the euphoria of meeting others and learning new things started to fade within a few hours of being back at my desk as the urgency of the day-job began to re-occupy my thoughts.
Expanding and using our knowledge is essential for staying up to date in an ever-changing environment of fundraising. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said that, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”. So, now that we are back at our desks frantically fundraising again, it may be useful to know how we ensure that our newly-expanded minds make the most of what we have learned at Convention.
Here are my top five tips for taking what you have learned from Convention into your work and your life.
1. Connect immediately with those you have met through LinkedIn
Set an hour aside. Gather all the business cards you’ve collected at Convention, and send them a message on LinkedIn that reminds both of you how / when you met and why you exchanged cards: “Hi, I’m Shonali. We met last week at Fundraising Convention after a brilliant session on legacy fundraising and we had an inspiring conversation about how your organisation successfully tagged legacy marketing onto community fundraising events”. Ideally you would also have a call to action: “You mentioned you’d be happy to meet for coffee and discuss this further – are you free next week?”. If you don’t have LinkedIn, do so through email. But the important thing is to do it now – strike while the iron is hot.
TOP TIP for the future: Smart networkers often write on their business cards what their conversation was about, so it makes this process easier.
2. Consolidate what you have learned from your sessions
If you have time in your lunch break or on your commute, these are good opportunities to embed what you have learned. Ideally, you would leave yourself some revision time and some thinking time, but you could also break this down into 15 minute chunks over several journeys. To revise a session, use your unique log in details to log on to the Convention website, find the session you attended and download the audio and PowerPoint content. Read through the session notes you have made. Then, preferably in a quiet space, turn on the audio while flicking through the PowerPoint slides, using your notes for reference. This should enable you to refresh what you have learned, remind you of the ideas you’d like to take forward, and maybe also notice some things about the session that you hadn’t noticed before.
TOP TIP for the future: When making notes in sessions, it’s always great to note your thoughts, rather than bullets from slides, as session content will always be available to you afterwards.
3. Share what you have learned
Seneca once said “While we teach, we learn,” and it’s true that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. Why not share your learning and experience with your colleagues who may benefit from the knowledge? Make a list of who might benefit from what you have learned at Convention. What is the best way to share that with them? Email? Blog? Presentation? How about getting together with others from your organisation who attended Convention and organising a company-wide get together to share innovations and ideas from Convention that can support the work you are doing?
TOP TIP for the future: When you are given new information, think about how this can be applied and who can benefit. Making a habit of processing information in this way helps you to better facilitate knowledge into application, and can help your networking skills.
4. Use the “Bright Actions Activity Book” that was commissioned especially for, and distributed at Convention. As well as being a practical handbook that brings together many of the learnings at Convention (leadership, diversity and personal development) it contains examples, motivational quotes and things you can try in your organisations and in your daily life.
5. And finally if there is anything that you’d like to bring back or implement, then use it straight away! There is no better way of consolidating learning than to put it in to practice. Set some goals and establish an action plan, and seek mentors to support you.
Convention has been a great opportunity to educate ourselves. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon with which we can change the world”. I hope you feel inspired – and now equipped – to use what you have learned at Convention to change your worlds.
Shonali Rodrigues, Freelance Event Fundraising Specialist and Fundraising Convention Board member