This trip was probably one of the quickest trips I have taken for a conference, but it was well worth the effort. I was able to attend and present at Salesforce’s Higher Ed Summit, which marked my first time presenting at a Salesforce event.

It was definitely a whirlwind between breakout sessions, keynotes, and quick demos of the various features the Salesforce platform has to offer. I got a chance to meet fellow professors at the event, but for the most part, most of the attendees were administrators and others who are connected with higher education.

Getting to the conference was quite the adventure in itself. We had a bit of snow (8+ inches) hit us in Louisville, KY this week. That’s a lot for us to take! From cancelled classes to rescheduling speakers and field trips, I also had to figure out whether or not I’d be able to go to my conference. In the 10+ years I have been presenting at a conference, I never had anything like this happen. Luckily, after 5 (yes, five different rebooking trips), I was able to make my flight

From the conference, there were a lot of good takeaways to consider, such as:

Faculty voices still need to be heard. Like I said in my CASE recap, faculty NEED to be present and active in these professional conferences. I talked to a few professionals at the event, and I was told the same thing. “You are not a typical professor you see around campus.” “It’s great to see a faculty member embrace technology!” I answered and said – there are more of us out there who embrace technology than you think. You just have to talk with us. Many of these academic institutions and companies have a huge opportunity to partner and work with faculty, and I felt there still is a need here to address this gap.

Impact of personal branding. I actually was talking about this very subject at the conference. Again, this is an area I am very passionate about, and was very excited to be able to share this experience and insights with everyone. I was able to meet a great colleague and Twitter friend of mine in person finally after years of correspondence. I had the chance to meet Jennie Donahue, who is a great professor up in Marist and helped them establish a great Center for Social Media. We met up for coffee and it was like we known each other for years. I appreciated Jennie sharing some kind words about me during my Q+A session for my talk, which was very kind! Thank you, Jennie!

I would also like to provide a huge thank you to my session leader, Morgan! Morgan was great in providing feedback on my talk and being a great supporter throughout the process. Thank you, Morgan!

Supporting the future generation of scholars. As we get older (or as my students say – becoming vintage!), we have got to support those who are coming up in the ranks and be a mentor for them. I have always believed in mentorship across the board. During the conference, I had a chance to meet up with a rising star in the PR and social media field, Brandon Boatwright. Brandon is a first year doctoral student at the University of Tennessee and has been working with Dr. Courtney Childers (who is great and I was her TA for the very social media class at UT in 2011). Brandon has done exceptional work in research, teaching, and presenting. Due to the weather, Courtney was not able to make it and Brandon presented their great work himself.

Brandon did an exceptional job. I told him the fact he presented at such a great and high profile event BEFORE he even finished his first year of doctoral studies is exceptional. My first professional talk was not until much later in my career. I was very pleased to support Brandon during his talk. Fellow PR colleagues, make sure to watch for Brandon. He’s a rising star and will be making a huge impact on the field. Make sure to connect with him and look for his work!

We have to embrace being innovators. A huge highlight for me was to hear from Guy Kawasaki during the closing keynote. I felt his talk “The Art of Innovation” was very inspiring and discussed key action steps and perspectives to have here related to what we need to do to pursue making an impact and difference in the field.Guy discussed how you have to be able to capitalize on emerging trends on the rise, but also recognize you can’t please everyone (this is one of the biggest lessons and points I have emphasized in my classes for sure!).

Showing my experience and what it is like at a technology conference for my students. As they say, you got to practice what you preach in the classroom, and what better way to do that than showcase this on social media. I documented my experience not on Snapchat, but on IG Stories. I wanted to show them what they are learning in the classroom has a direct connection of what is happening in the industry.

Overall, this conference was a great experience (a quick one!). Another big bonus for me was to be able to meet up with my sister Kristin and brother-in-law Scott for lunch after my conference was over. Love my family!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

Categories: Presentations