Have you been missing those informal chats and impromptu conversations that take place at conferences? You know the ones where you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time in the hotel lobby or outside an educational session and the next thing you know an hour has passed? We know it’s been more difficult to connect with our colleagues this year, but it’s more important now than ever that we nurture the community we love!

All of us have grappled with how to engage our students during this time when we are limited in our ability to physically bring them together – but what about us? We need to remember that our own professional development and networking skills need cultivating during these uncertain times. In response to the challenge to keep our professional community engaged, NIRSA recently asked members about what might be needed to facilitate intentional and effective opportunities to help keep us connected.

Through numerous conversations and brainstorming with various members – and considering in-person events are indefinitely paused – the idea of creating virtual small group community engagement spaces that help encourage and foster networking was born. Beginning March 16, NIRSA will be launching a monthly “Community Connections” hour where those attending will break out into small groups of no more than eight people for engaging conversations focused on a selected theme or topic. The purpose of these sessions will be to introduce you to new members, to reconnect with colleagues you’ve known for years, and to provide a space for idea sharing and discussion.

Community Connections sessions are designed to be interactive and participants will be expected to be engaged and involved should they choose to attend. Each month will bring a different topic, and most likely different people, but the goal will remain the same: to create, build, and foster connection throughout our NIRSA community.

The first three session dates and topics are below.

Tuesday, March 16 at 9am PT/12pm ET – Work + Life Harmony

Discussion will focus on what tactics, habits, and patterns are useful and effective in this new world where life and work are intersecting in new ways.

Register today

Tuesday, April 20 at 9am PT/12pm ET – Cultivating Professional Relationships

Discussion will focus on understanding different leadership styles and generational lenses related to developing effective communication among colleagues and employees.

Register today

Tuesday, May 18 at 9am PT/12pm ET – Navigating Your Career Journey

Discussion will focus on career management, when and how to seek new opportunities, and how to use and grow your network in a more digital world.

Register today

Prepare to join us

Check out the the NIRSA Connect community affiliated with each event (you are automatically added upon registration) for some resources to get you thinking ahead of the event – or as a way to continue conversation after the event. It is important to come to the session prepared to engage in dialogue and share ideas on this topic. These sessions are intended to be highly participatory.

  • For questions about this initiative, to provide feedback, or to get involved, please contact Yvette Kell, Director of Campus Recreation at CENTERS, LLC at University of Missouri – St. Louis or Nicole Omeda, Associate Director of Recreational Sports at the University of Texas at Austin. Email them at kellyv@umsl.edu and nicole.olmeda@austin.utexas.edu.
Director of Campus Recreation at University of Missouri-St Louis | NIRSA Profile

Yvette Kell is currently the Director of Campus Recreation, CENTERS, LLC at the University of Missouri-St Louis. She is Chair of the Government Affairs Committee.

Nicole Olmeda, CRSS, is currently Associate Director at the University of Texas at Austin; you can reach her by email at nicole.olmeda@austin.utexas.edu.