Getting the most out of EVAL2017: Part 1 by Martha A. Brown

I am Martha Brown, President of RJAE Consulting, enthusiastic AEA member and conference junkie. In this 2-part series, I’ll share Lessons Learned, Hot Tips, and Rad Resources for helping you get the most out of EVAL2017, especially if you are attending for the first time. Today’s blog will focus on networking.

Hot Tips:

First time? Do not be shy or afraid! Networking with other evaluators is critical to your success.  We rely on each other for support, knowledge, sharing, finding work, changing jobs, exploring new methodologies and theories, co-authoring, co-presenting, and collaborating.  Although it can seem like everyone there knows more than you do, you too have something to offer! Make AEA your community – jump in, get involved, connect, learn, grow, work and have fun!

Note AEA365 blog authors that interest you and subscribe to EVALTalk. You can identify people you might want to meet by reading their posts. This also keeps you connected to the larger evaluation community and lets you tune into what people are talking about – and who is doing the talking.

Make a list of people that you would like to meet, like the giants in your field or people who could become potential partners and collaborators. Send each of them an email requesting to meet briefly for coffee, lunch or drinks.  Most evaluators will welcome your invitation and may give you 30 minutes or so if they can. Make sure you know where you are meeting, be punctual, and respect their time. If they can’t meet with you personally, search the program and attend their presentations or workshops. Always make those face-to-face connections and introduce yourself – smile, shake hands, leave your business card.

Talk to everyone you meet. Don’t just go into sessions, sit down, listen, and leave. Pay attention when people introduce themselves and read nametags. Look and listen for people who share your interests and reach out to them. Actively participate in sessions and let people get to know you.

Join TIGs and go to a TIG meeting. Join them for post-meeting dinner, relax with like-minded people and enjoy the conversation. Of the many people you will meet personally, these will probably be the ones you remember and who remember you the most.

In the 2-3 days after the conference when you are too exhausted to work, create a database of names and emails of people you met, and send them a short note. Remind people who you are, and keep that door open for future possibilities and collaborations. Build and nurture these relationships.

Lesson Learned:

The tips I shared are things that I did to prepare for attending Evaluation 2016. I am now honored to know – and consider as my colleagues – many amazing, brilliant, and successful evaluators. I can now tap into AEA and this vibrant evaluation community at a much deeper level than if I had just attended sessions and gone home. For this I am grateful.

Rad Resource: 19 ways to “Kill it” at your next networking event

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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