May 29, 2011

Making Connections

Posted in Conference communication at 1:10 am by Sue Hine

You know how it is.  You send off an email, you Facebook and Twitter, you spread your messages abroad and count your number of friends to see how far your words have roamed.  These are the cyberspace connections we embrace these days.

Yet connections are not quite the same as having a face-to-face conversation, an exchange of words, ideas, meanings and understandings.  It’s not the same as R D Laing’s interpretation of communication interchange which was all about experience of the other: I experience you experiencing me experiencing you experiencing me… a pattern of infinite regression.

When you put the two together, connections and communication, you get a Conference, like we had this past week at the Volunteering New Zealand Conference.  That’s where you could get the best in exchanging ideas and understandings on volunteering and management of volunteers.  Of course having a live streaming facility for others to participate in proceedings would have widened the connections – maybe we will get there next time.

There were three streams of interest: Episodic, Event and Emergency Volunteering; Building Volunteering Infrastructure; and Developing the Leaders.  Three streams of opportunities to hear a presentation, to workshop a topic and to get some appreciation of volunteering and management of volunteers.  Not to mention powerful and inspiring addresses from keynote speakers, both national and international.  Not to mention the buzz of conversation between sessions, the real-time personal meeting and greeting of colleagues who had previously been an abstract email address.

Of course the conference was a timely opportunity to review and analyse the experience of emergency services from the Christchurch earthquake.  Of course it was important to reflect on best practice for event management, given New Zealand’s biggest volunteer programme happening later this year – the Rugby World Cup.  Contributions to these parts of the Conference programme were received enthusiastically.

You can take a sure bet that my focus was on Developing the Leaders.  What a feast was on offer!  Consider the key words and phrases and the images that have peppered presentations and commentary:

  • Creative leadership
  • Organic movement
  • The Starfish Effect
  • Strategic Collaboration
  • Momentum
  • Legacy

Each of these words needs elaboration.  Find out more in the coming weeks on the VNZ website.

In the end there is only one way to express the importance of Developing Leaders in our sector: best practice in management of volunteers adds value to the value of volunteers.  That’s what we do best and we want to make sure you know about it.


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