Barb Hutson is currently the Prospect Development and Campaign Manager at Luther Seminary. In 2016, she was selected to receive the Apra-MN scholarship to attend the Apra International Conference. Read her reflections below and consider applying for the scholarship this year!
Reflections on 2016 Apra International Prospect Development Conference
By Barb Hutson
Thank you for the opportunity to attend the international conference for Apra in July 2016, in Nashville, TN! It was an amazing opportunity, and I took advantage of every opportunity.
A lot has happened since I applied for the Apra International conference scholarship. But it is never too late to say thank you to the members of Apra-MN and make sure you all know that scholarships are an important membership benefit of this great organization!
To start, here is the description of the Nashville Gaylord Opryland Hotel:
A 14-minute walk from the Grand Ole Opry, this lavish resort is set under fully enclosed and temperature controlled glass atriums. There are 17 restaurants. Other amenities include 9 acres of indoor gardens with waterfalls, 1 indoor and 2 outdoor pools, an exercise room and a spa, along with an 18-hole golf course, an arcade, and boat tours through the indoor garden. The convention center has 152 meeting spaces, including 6 ballrooms.
Needless to say, we all did a great deal of walking through this huge conference center and resort hotel. During the conference we sat all day long, but everyone logged at least 15,000 steps daily on phone apps and Fitbits. Many people’s rooms were a ¼ mile walk from the conference center! The indoor gardens were amazing and the size of the resort was unbelievable!
I arrived the day before the conference officially started and got a room back by the conference center – at least a ½ mile walk through the resort, but closer to the conference rooms. I spent my time that evening scoping out where the conference rooms were, bathrooms, restaurants, my room assignments, etc. I thought I had shin splints from all of the walking, just on the first day.
During the conference, I concentrated on the Prospect Management Track, and planned each day concentrating on that track. This year there was a great phone app available for your schedule, links to the slides, locations, speaker bios, etc. I could not decide on sessions, so before I left, I printed the slides from every session I was interested in attending. I like to take my notes on paper. Other people had their I-pads and laptops and took notes online. Before each day began, I figured out where rooms were, and planned my routes to get to each place quickly. Navigating the conference center was a challenge because it was so big, and session rooms were spread across a large area. Thankfully, workshops in each track were grouped together.
The keynote speech by Risa Mish was Art of the Sale: Persuasion and Influence Tips for Development Professionals (and Everyone Else) was great. She talked about non-verbal cues, how to project confidence in our work, and influencing through the knowledge of our own personal core values. We ended with learning to build rapport with the customers who receive and use our information, and we practiced our confident Super-Woman pose!
This year the TED talks presentation, Friday morning, were given by our own Mark Egge of the Greater Twin Cities United Way, Michael Quevli of Target Analytics and Tracy Church of Tracy Church and Associates. These talks focused on how to network, get involved and volunteer, and use your social networks and social media to build relationships.
During the conference, I also took advantage of networking opportunities with each vendor, with the Minnesota chapter, and volunteered as greeter and human sign for several shifts. This is a great way to meet people, to discuss new ideas, and to have some fun!
Lastly, because I was in Nashville, I got tickets for the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium Bluegrass night! I joined in with a Minnesota colleague to get downtown to the Ryman Theater, and tagged along with Blackbaud folks to the Grand Ole Opry.
Since I came home from the conference I have changed jobs and am at a new organization with a new title and responsibilities. By taking advantage of all that Apra-MN has to offer over four+ years, I have been able to advance my career, improve my salary, and I have received excellent received training in Prospect Management and Development.
Please take the time to explore opportunities and conferences and webinars offered through Apra-MN. Also, please apply for the scholarship for the Apra International Conference in Anaheim, CA. I will see you there!