Most days, my work in the Central Office is very different from my previous career on campus, but one week each year, the similarities are profound. Much like the college union on campus, the ACUI annual conference is gathering place where members of the community come together to get “to know and understand others through formal and informal associations,” as stated in the Role of the College Union.
In addition to the keynote addresses, the educational sessions, and connecting with colleagues, there is much to be learned by engaging in conversation with company representatives in the exhibit hall. Even if there is not a current need to purchase furniture or software programs or you don't have plans in the near future for a major renovation project, getting to know the people and companies that return to the ACUI Expo year after year will prove to be a valuable resource when the need arises.
In an age where you can find just about anything in an Internet search, it is not as easy to find a company that takes the time to understand the unique needs of the collegiate environment and, specifically, the college union. Companies invest the resources and join together with ACUI delegates on common ground not only to showcase their offerings, but also to learn, to set themselves apart from their competitors, and to strengthen their connection to their customers.
One striking example of this happened during the recent annual conference in Boston. Janis Etzcorn, marketing communications manager at Landscape Forms, sent a message to me. Included was a link a blog post where she shows an understanding of the profession gained from a little pamphlet called "51 Facts About College Unions."
Companies learn from us. What have you learned from corporate participation at the annual conference?
is the Director of Corporate Partnerships at ACUI.
Martha manages all aspects of strategic alliances with corporate partners, including associate memberships, advertising, exhibits, sponsorship, and ACUI Procure, the professional buying group for ACUI.