Member Services Committee offers on-demand support, flexible networking for virtual conference-goers at NORDP 2021

Submitted by Sarah Messbauer, Member Services Committee

It’s no secret that virtual conferences present a unique set of opportunities and challenges. This year, for example, NORDP is reducing the stress we’ve all felt when choosing between concurrent sessions by offering more pre-recorded content and extended pre-and post-conference sessions. At the same time, the global connection of our virtual formats does have the potential to make us feel disconnected from peers and colleagues—unless we take active steps to forge those connections ourselves. 

It is for these reasons that the volunteers of NORDP’s Member Services Committee are “booting up” a suite of information, resources, and services to ensure all NORDP 2021 attendees can maximize their conference experience.   

Orientation for New Members/New Attendees – A guide to all things NORDP 2021

If you are new to NORDP, new to conferencing, or just want some insights on how best to navigate this year’s program, be sure to register for this conference overview event scheduled for Thursday, 29 April 2021 from 12:00-1:00pm EDT. The discussion will begin with a brief overview of NORDP’s goals and how it is structured to best serve you before segueing into advice from the conference organizers on how to navigate the conference platform and program, insights on networking opportunities, and tips on avoiding conference burnout. 

There will be plenty of time left for Q&A, so come with questions!

“Ask Me!” – NORDP’s annual conference ambassadors program goes virtual 

Conference Ambassadors are this year’s corp of volunteers ready to answer any questions you may have at any time: about the conference, our organization, or our profession. They are active NORDP members who have attended at least one prior conference (potential Ambassadors – sign up here!). You can spot them by their virtual “Ambassador” name tags… and a few may even sport the phrase “Ask Me!” in front of their names throughout conference! 

Let’s all go to the Lobby… and have ourselves a Chat!

Looking for a break from sitting in on sessions? Interested in connecting with your Research Development peers? If a mid-conference connection is in the cards, come by the conference platform’s virtual lobby and enter the Lobby Chat! This feature will be open for informal networking several hours each day, with MSC volunteers on-hand to answer questions and generate conversation. 

The Lobby Chat will be open on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the conference, from 10:00-11:00am; 1:30-2:30pm; and 5:00-6:00pm each day. 

The happiest place(s) on earth: MSC Happy Hours!

The Member Services Committee is hosting two concurrent happy hours at this year’s conference, both of which will take place on Wednesday, 5 May 2021 from 7:00-8:00pm (EDT).

In our first room, we’ll be chatting about the most useful activities, services, or resources you’ve come across as an RD professional—at your organization or elsewhere. If you’re curious to know what people are doing or seeing (and are willing to share, yourself), this is the place for the curious and creative. 

In our second room, we’re inviting all parents and caretakers to come and talk about Research Development: caretaking at home (and work?!). This will be a family-friendly happy hour, so kids, spouses, parents, and others are welcome to stop by, hang out, and join the conversation.

Networking Dinners – or breakfasts, or lunches, or….

Do you prefer a smaller, more intimate setting for getting to know your peers and colleagues? If so, Thursday, May 6th’s “Networking Dinners”—a longstanding NORDP conference tradition—are just the thing. These fun and informal zoom “dinners” are 1-hour sessions that provide a small group setting to meet and engage with other conference attendees around a topic selected by your host. Topics from past years have included: 

  • “Advancing Diversity in the RD Profession,” 
  • “Limited Submissions: Working With Leadership,” 
  • “Government Relations for Arts and Humanities” 
  • “RD Office Workflow Management”
  • “Graphic Design Tools of the Trade” 
  • “First-Time Conference Attendees” 
  • “Supporting Mid-Career Researchers”
  • “Transitioning to Supervising”

This year, hosts select the time of the meeting and provide their own Zoom link; this will provide those joining in from diverse time zones with more options to engage with your peers…. whether you’d like to share a meal, a cup of tea, or just some good conversation! Dinner? Sure! But “Networking Brunch” sounds pretty great too.

If you’d like to host a ‘dinner,’ please sign up here by Wednesday, 28 April 2021.  

If you’d like to attend a ‘dinner,’ please stay tuned! We’ll share the invitation to RSVP once host sign-ups are complete. 

Wow! With so many resources, activities, and support available, we hope to knock those virtual conferencing challenges right off your radar. If you are new to NORDP or have questions about the conference, attend the pre-conference Orientation or reach out to a NORDP Ambassador. They are your friendly faces and first friends of NORDP 2021, and along with other conference resources such as the daily Lobby Chats, concurrent Happy Hours, and final day “Networking Dinners,” are provided by the Member Services Committee to ensure all our Research Development colleagues have access to the information and services they need to make this year’s conference our best one yet! 

Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2021 updates.

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

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