I’ve just spent the past couple of days at the Technology Centers that Work conference (a fantastic event by the way), listening to the brilliant Pam Daly talk about marketing, communications, and branding.
It brought to mind one of the topics I try to cover in my partnership development workshops. Specifically, when you’re trying to attract new partners, you have got to present yourself as the kind of school or program that people would want to work with.
I’ve been in lots of partnership meetings and school tours where the desire to gripe or complain got the better of the educator or administrator involved. I’ve heard all sorts of things that have made me cringe, ranging from “we don’t have enough money to do anything” to “the rules make it impossible to do anything good” to “the administration is terrible.”
We all feel frustrated sometimes – but if you were in an employer’s shoes and you heard things like that, would you want to get involved in what they’re doing? I doubt it.
The lesson, then, is to present your program in the best possible light. Show your achievements and give a sense of momentum. Be ready to share an exciting vision for where you want to go in the future.
Just imagine the contrast, again through a partner’s eyes, of hearing “we had three students just compete statewide in a skills competition” versus “we don’t have enough money to do anything.” Imagine the difference between “Nine students earned these certifications, and six are now thriving in the industry” versus “the administration is terrible.” Given a choice between working with one of those two people, which would you choose?
Tying this back to one of Pam Daly’s discussion points, in addition to focusing on the positives, make sure your school, or at least program area, shows a positive and inviting environment. Part of this is conventional image development (good logo and color scheme); the rest involves actually making your facilities look like a place students – and partners – want to be. Fresh paint, murals, slogans on the wall, and displays of awards and student work all fit in this line of thought.
Just remember that everyone wants to be on a winning team. In both words and deeds, do whatever you can to let your prospective partners that they’ll be glad they joined yours.
Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.