Post By Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director, Virginia Tech Career Services
Thank you for your email? Seriously? With over 160 right now in my In Box? Who are you kidding? Yes, it may sound unusual, but that’s what disarming students or other stakeholders is all about. How can you make yourself approachable and build that rapport electronically? You have an electronic image to convey – what do you want it to look like?
One part of Disarm, the first of the six phases of appreciative advising consists of “a warm welcome,” which should happen electronically and in person (Bloom et al, 35-41). This phase is all about making the student, employer, co-worker or parent feel comfortable before you begin the rest of your email or conversation.
Graphic from: http://www.appreciativeadvising.net/
Consider the opening of your email reply. Typing a greeting, like Hi Claire, personalizes your message. The sound people like to hear most is their name. Next, saying Thank you for your email accomplishes several things:
- This statement sets an initial positive tone for whatever kind of information you are about to share.
- Such an initial impression also lets the sender know that you are glad he/she reached out to you.
- Typing these words is always a reminder to me that I am grateful for the critical role I have the privilege of playing as an advisor to students or as a supervisor to my team.
Your Email Signature
Think of your email signature as your billboard. What information needs to be there to make contacting you an easy process? What else do you want your stakeholders to know about you? In our office at Virginia Tech, many advisors share their Signature Themes from their Gallup Strengths Finder assessment. Some share a favorite quote while others share links to LinkedIn, a favorite professional organization, or a blog.
Who are you?
We all know before many students or others meet with us, they are going to check us out online. What view of you do students see? A cold, all business picture? That’s fine if that’s the view you want to convey. Since I’m old enough to be a student’s Mom, on our staff page, I share a photo of me with the Hokie Bird, trying to make my image a less scary one. http://www.career.vt.edu/StaffMembers/ClaireChildress.htm
Who is your office?
When a student pulls up your web site, what is the first thing the student sees? A building? A bunch of words? What do you want them to see? How about your most valuable resource to share, your people? Adding photos of your staff working with students and employers lessens that cold, clinical feel a student may get if she/he wants to see just who is this career center by viewing us online. And, is information about your staff easy to locate? I’ve been on a number of sites recently where I’ve had to go on a scavenger hunt to try and find staff contact information. Do you really want to make it that hard for your stakeholders to contact you?
You may already be doing a lot of these practices to make yourself e-Disarming. I think that’s why appreciative advising really resonated with me when I first learned about this philosophy, because I was already doing a number of the recommended practices. But, we can all improve, like the final phase of appreciative advising, Don’t Settle emphasizes. How can you be better?
If you want to join the conversation and learn more about appreciative advising, please join Ali Woodworth and me for a SoACE Webinar on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT for Applying Appreciative Advising to Help Students Plan Their Career Journey.
For more information on appreciative advising: http://www.appreciativeadvising.net/
Bloom, Jennifer L., Hutson, Bryant L., and He, Ye. The Appreciative Advising Revolution. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing, 2008.
Claire Childress, Virginia Tech Career Services Senior Assistant Director for Job Search and Graduate School Preparation, advises students and leads a team of advisors and a portfolio of services and programs. A 2012 graduate of the Appreciative Advising Institute and appreciative advising advocate, Claire presented a 3-part Intern Bridge webinar series on chaos theory and appreciative advising with Ms. Ali Woodworth in October 2014 and presented a webinar with Dr. Jennifer Bloom on appreciative advising and career services in April 2013. A former President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Claire currently serves as SoACE Director of Professional Development. She writes regularly for her career advising blog, CareerChassé. Connect with Claire: firstname.lastname@example.org LinkedIn | See full bio HERE.