Everyone I know: “Why is your conference in Puerto Rico?”
The answer to this question is simple, and well thought out. Mongoose had held our annual user retreat ELEVATE in our hometown of Buffalo, NY for two years before deciding to take the show out of the Queen City. We chose San Juan, Puerto Rico because, like higher ed, the area boasts a wonderful collection of people at a crossroads.
How many times, when performing a difficult task, have you found the answer by taking a step back? A different approach often leads to new and exciting ways to work, and that was our vision heading into ELEVATE 2019 in San Juan. Surrounded by the rebirth of the city, our clients gathered to focus on new ways to rise to the challenge and better communicate with their students and alumni heading into a new cycle.
Positivity is contagious
ELEVATE began with a stirring keynote presentation by renowned mindfulness expert, Dr. Shauna Shapiro. In extolling the benefits of training our brains to enact positive change, Dr. Shapiro gave a lesson in harnessing our brain’s ability to change through practiced positivity. It was the perfect tone to kickstart innovative thinking.
At Mongoose, we don’t believe in doing things the way they’ve always been done. The word “mindfulness” conjures images of monks on rugs, chanting and meditating. The practice is more of an effort to embrace positivity and focus your mind toward finding solutions that work. There was also some deep breathing, and the reviews were rave.
Relationships are foundations
Whether it was a session on maximizing the use of data by Jeff McNamara, the Director of Student Success at Carroll University, or an interactive presentation on providing outstanding customer service for your students from Amber Ortiz and Nathan Olmeda of USC Hybrid Prep, it’s clear that the thought leaders in higher ed believe that a personal approach is best for any communication strategy.
Knowing the interests of students can help in EVERY stage of their lifecycle. When your messages (texts, emails, calls, etc.) have a specific direction, your odds of engagement rise dramatically. As James Coker, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at East Carolina University, states, even if your strategy utilizes automation, you still need to have natural conversations to succeed.
Advancement was well covered at ELEVATE. Emily Porter from UNC Charlotte laid out the school’s strategy in reaching alumni and building a bridge between departments. Mongoose’s own Lauren Jaeger presented ways to modernize tired engagement and stewardship strategies by deepening the relationship between school and alum. One of the lessons learned in both sessions was that the best way to connect with alumni is to get to know their interests and ignite their passion.
Great things are on the horizon
Mongoose President Dave Marshall and Vice President Andrew Veatch laid out the product roadmap for Cadence, our texting platform, based on the suggestions and preferences of our clients. While that information is exclusive to ELEVATE attendees, it goes without saying that there are some exciting features coming to Cadence in the near future.
Hands-on Cadence training
Perhaps the best response we received from this year’s ELEVATE came from our breakout sessions. Our Mongoose team drew on their experience to give valuable training in CRM integration sessions and Cadence crash courses. Because we surveyed our users before the retreat, we were able to maximize our time and help where it was needed most. These sessions were very well received, especially to our users who are new to Cadence.
An amazing collection of talent
One of the things we stress when preparing our user retreat is education. A topic can be well presented, but a session is only worthwhile if it actually helps the audience. That is why we are so grateful and proud of each of our session presenters. Our Mongoose team heard from attendees over and over again how much they have gained at the retreat.
ELEVATE is a great opportunity for us to connect with the clients we work with every day, and the conversations give us clear direction of things we can do to help schools reach their constituents. Now we’ll get busy training our minds for all the positive change on the way!