Networking tips for AVM events

Networking… you might love it, you may hate it, or you might fall somewhere in between these two extremes. But however you feel about it, it can be really useful for your professional development. And with conference only a week away, I wanted to share some tips on preparing to make the most of the networking time at conference. I’ve crowd sourced some of these ideas through Twitter, which I highly recommend as a great way to start networking.

Do your research

Is there someone you’ve wanted to meet for a while? There are a couple of ways you can find out who is going, ahead of conference.

Eventbrite shares first name and organisation of participants, so you can check out in advance if they are going, and look out for them on the day. 

If you’re on Twitter and not already following @AVMTweets (why not?) do so. People are already starting to chat about conference. You can always ask who is going to start a conversation. Or maybe someone you chat to regularly on Twitter is going to be there? Every year I get to meet people I’ve met on Twitter at conference.

This year’s hashtag is #AVM2018 so do include this in any tweets about the conference.

Try: Hi, I see that you work at Organisation X. I’ve been interested in – something you’re interested in learning more about. Could you tell me more about that?

Prepare

This year I’ve been working with my mentor on a number of areas of professional and personal development. One of which has been to be more effective at networking, as I am really not very comfortable with small talk. 

Part of my mentoring ‘homework’ has included preparing ahead of events like conference, or other AVM events. Things I’ve planned include something I’ve read that’s relevant to the event, or a key project I’m working on, and this has meant I’ve found I’m now less anxious before events.

I’ve also been thinking about questions to ask others at events. Is there something tricky I’m working on at the moment? I can ask someone if they’ve had to do something similar and how they handled it.
I’ve also been working on building my courage to talk to speakers at events, or someone whose work I admire. I still find it rather daunting to talk to the ‘experts’ from the stage, but I’m getting there! I just have to remind myself they’re a person like me.

Try: Hi, I see that you work at Organisation X. I’ve been interested in – something you’re interested in learning more about. Could you tell me more about that?

A simple greeting

Starting a conversation can feel really daunting, particularly if you’re not particularly comfortable with small talk. If you’re not very confident approaching people you’ve not met before, look for someone you know – or at least have met before, even if it was earlier in the event – who is talking to someone you don’t. This can often feel less daunting.

But what if you’ve come on your own and not met anyone yet? Never fear, the weather is bound to be unexpected for the season, someone’s travel to conference was probably eventful, and if all else fails, my old failsafe is “food/ coffee/ biscuits* look good/ bad/ awful*” (*delete as applicable), something I ALWAYS have an informed opinion about (don’t worry, the refreshments have always been great at conference!).

But once you’ve got past that first chat about food, and suddenly realise you’ve not actually introduced yourself, you can learn a simple networking greeting by remembering Inigo Montoya. Inigo’s most famous greeting can be broken down into four simple steps:

  1. Polite greeting: “Hello.”
  2. Name: “My name is Inigo Montoya.”
  3. Relevant personal link: “You killed my father.”
  4. Manage expectations: “Prepare to die.”

And there you have it, a simple networking greeting: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

And don’t worry: nobody at conference is expecting an elevator pitch from you. Where you’re from and what your role is is a great relevant personal link.

Try: Hi, I’m Jo and I’m a Volunteer Manager at Organisation X. Is this your first time at an AVM conference?

Thanks to Annabel Smith for sourcing the image.

A comfortable exit

When we’re at events we often want to meet more people, but sometimes our nerves can mean we find it hard to exit a conversation, either resulting in feeling we’ve overstayed our welcome, or rude when we leave. Don’t worry: most people won’t think you’re rude if you leave the conversation. And you don’t need to use comfort break as an uncomfortable exit excuse. A polite thank you and goodbye will be sufficient. 

Try: Steve, it was really a pleasure speaking with you. I’m going to take a look at some of the other exhibits here, but if I don’t run into you later, I hope to see you at another event soon.

Following up with contacts

Strengthening your networks is a great advantage of AVM events. If you think that you’d find it useful to follow up with someone, ask for their business card, or let them know you’ll plan to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Try: I had a great time talking with you about X and I’d love to follow up with you later? Do you have a business card, or can I connect with you on LinkedIn, as it would be great to keep in touch?

Facilitating your networking

We know striking up a conversation with someone you’ve not met before doesn’t come easy to everyone, including volunteer managers. So this year we’ve again planned ways to help facilitate your networking experience. We’ll have discussion prompts on the walls, networking tables over lunch to discuss a variety of topics, and plenty of breaks for a cuppa and a chat.

We’ve also booked a space after conference so that those who are able to stay on can have a drink, and carry on some of the great discussions that were started during the day.

Hope to see you at conference!

Find out more

Conference tickets are selling out fast!

Have you got your ticket for the volunteer management event of the year? If not, don’t delay as tickets are selling out fast, and some of the seminars are fully booked.

If you’re still wondering if it’s for you, here are a few reasons why we think you should come to conference!

We have three fantastic keynote speakers:

  • Tiger de Souza, Director (Volunteering, Participation & Inclusion), National Trust. Tiger will be gazing into his volunteer management crystal ball to talk about Futurology: The UK trends that may impact Volunteering by 2030
  • Helen Timbrell, People and Organisational Development Consultant. Helen will be discussing how we can get past Groundhog Day, and why our leadership needs to change the conversations we’re having about volunteering.
  • Chris Jones, CEO, England Athletics. Chris will share how England Athletics have put volunteering at their heart.

We have wide choice of workshops and seminars from sector experts, to suit a wide variety of interests:

  • Mindfulness and Resilience
  • Organisational Values and Volunteering
  • Research partnerships- volunteering and academia working together
  • Rethinking the Data We Collect
  • Leadership Competencies
  • How to have difficult conversations
  • So you think you want a volunteer management system?
  • Building confidence for volunteers with support needs

Your peers recommend conference as a great way to learn, develop and build your networks.

Delegates who attended last year’s conference said:

  • “Really great keynote speakers, individually and good variety across them. Great to have peers in the sector sharing learning in workshops. Always good to hear what others are up to and have a chance to discuss challenges candidly and support each other”
  • “Workshop sessions where we could share ideas and experiences. Friendliness of organisers. Interesting final keynote speaker”
  • “Networking was great, standard of speakers was high, I felt stretched by the discussions”
  • “Networking, exchanging ideas, free range to think outside the box – not always possible in a work context!”

AVM’s annual conference is the industry leading event, bringing together Heads of Volunteering, Directors of Volunteering and Volunteer Managers from the broadest spectrum of volunteer organisations.

View the full conference details and book your tickets.

AVM Grows Its Voice With New Chair and Five New Board Members

At this week’s AGM the Association of Volunteer Managers welcomed a new chair and five new members of the board, as the organisation looked to grow its voice for the volunteer management profession.

Founding member Debbie Usiskin stood down from both the position of chair and the board after ten years, and announced her successor as Ruth Leonard.

Ruth’s first task after the announcement was to share the results of the board elections, where successful candidates Jo Gibney, Daniel Ingram and Karen Ramnauth were all appointed to three-year terms on the board. While four board places were being contested, following a draw for fourth place the AGM resolved to appoint the two drawing candidates Angela Wilson and Rachel Ball to two year terms as directors.

Ruth said: “We’d like to wish a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Debbie Usiskin who stood down from the role of Chair of the Board at our AGM. Debbie has given an immense amount of time and commitment to AVM since our official launch and before. At the launch event 10 years ago she described ‘managing volunteers as becoming like juggling, but harder’ and it seems as if expectations are even greater on those who involve and work with volunteers today. Debbie will continue to be a great advocate of AVM and as with all our members will have a powerful part to play in the future.”

Debbie Usiskin was part of the team that conceived and founded AVM, along with John Ramsey, and served as Vice Chair from its formal registration in 2007 until taking on the role of chair two years ago. Her successor Ruth has a track record of senior level volunteer engagement and currently works as Macmillan Cancer Support’s Head of Volunteering.

The newly-elected directors help grow the varied skills and perspectives on the board, coming from an array of organisation types and management levels. Jo Gibney comes from The British Legion’s Volunteer Support Unit and holds an ILM Level 5 in Volunteer Management, Daniel Ingram comes from the animal charity Wood Green, and Karen Ramnauth brings legal training and the perspective of volunteer engagement within the NHS to the board for the first time.

In addition to Debbie, the AGM saw board members Karen Janes and Bryan Precious retire from the board, after two and three-years respectively.

On taking up the position of chair, Ruth reflected that, “We as the Board need to remember advice from the launch event’s facilitator that we need to allow AVM to grow in line with members’ wishes and as members – this is your association so you have a responsibility to help it grow – it shouldn’t be done solely by the Directors.”

In addition to Ruth and new directors Jo, Daniel, Karen, Angela and Rachel, the board of AVM currently consists of Treasurer Patrick Daniels, Chris Reed, Fiona Wallace, Rachael Bayley and Vice-Chair A.S. Maini.

Last few places available for AVM 2017: The Annual Conference. Bookings will close this week.

We’re pleased to announce that bookings for AVM 2017: The Annual Conference are at an all time high.
Book your place now.
As an AVM member you already receive a 50% discount on your conference booking but why not enjoy more with the early bird discount. We only have a limited number of these tickets available.
As a non-member you can still enjoy early bird discount, but we only have a limited number of these tickets available.
Don’t leave it too long to book your place and why would you want to when you see what a fantastic line-up we have planned:
Keynote speakers this year are:
Julie Bentley, CEO of Girlguiding
Vicky Browning, CEO of Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
James Probert, Director of Strategy and Impact, City Year UK
Seminars this year include:
• Change is not a journey
• Measuring Impact
• Using data and benchmarks to drive volunteering up the agenda
• Embracing the age of opportunity – involving younger and older volunteers
• Corporate volunteering from the third sector perspective
• Creativity and meaning in volunteer reward and recognition
• Influential Leadership: Gaining Commitment, Getting Results
• GIVERS – Nudging People to Volunteer
You shouldn’t just hear it from us how great the conference is. Carly Benton, Volunteer Development Officer at Crohn’s and Colitis UK, shares her experience of being a first-timer at the AVM Conference in 2016 and why you shouldn’t miss out:
“For me there is nothing more valuable than meeting like-minded peers to challenge my thinking.  There will always be areas for improvement and barriers to overcome in the world of volunteering. This is why the AVM Conference is the perfect place for volunteer managers to come together with a shared understanding, to not only to develop your skillset and keep up to date with current trends, but also to reassure you you’re not in it alone!”
We look forward to seeing you at the Volunteer Management event of the year!
AVM Conference Team

Presentations from AVM2016, The National Conference

The following is an overview of the content from AVM2016, The National Conference:


Keynote: How volunteering will continue to fit in with the future strategy of NCVO
Karl Wilding – Director of Public Policy and Volunteering at NCVO
Karl’s Presentation on SlideShare


Keynote: 10 ideas for volunteer managers from the corporate world
Joe Saxton – Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy and its founder
Joe’s Presentation on SlideShare


Workshop A – Great Scott! – Future Trends & Issues in Volunteer Management
Rob Jackson – Rob Jackson Consulting
Rob’s Presentation on SlideShare


Workshop B – Volunteers and The Law – What Do I Need to Know?
Mark Restall – Author of Volunteers and the Law, trainer, writer and consultant
Mark’s Presentation on SlideShare


Workshop C – DeMontfort University And National Trust Research
Professor Anne-Marie Greene – De Montfort University
Annabel Smith – National Trust
Anne-Marie and Annabel’s Presentation on SlideShare


Workshop D – Measuring Volunteer Impact
Joanna Stuart – Senior Research Officer at NCVO Institute for Volunteering Research
Joanna’s Presentation on Slideshare


Workshop E – Volunteering & Digital Media
David Hunt – Digital Manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability
David’s Presentation on SlideShare


Workshop F – Volunteers And The Law – Ask Me Anything!
Mark Restall – Author of Volunteers and the Law, trainer, writer and consultant
Mark’s Presentation on SlideShare

Bookings Now Open for AVM Conference 2016

welcome to avmThe conference team have been busy, the venue is booked, keynote speakers are in place and the Volunteer Management event of the year, and highlight of the AVM calendar, is ready to go.
Bookings for this year’s AVM annual conference are now open.  You can book your place here.
This year we are offering a small number of member tickets at last year’s conference price so book early to enjoy all of this year’s conference benefits at last year’s price – what could be better.
Key note speakers this year are:
• Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy and Volunteering at NCVO
• Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of Girlguiding
• Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy and its founder
Workshops this year include:
• Volunteers and the Law
• Future Trends and Issues in Volunteer Management
• Measuring Volunteer Impact
• Volunteering and Digital Media
It’s an exciting conference programme and we look forward to seeing you there.

AVM Conference 2015 – slides

The following is an overview of the AVM Conference Programme 2015 (PDF):
Tweets from delegates at the AVM Conference 2015 #AVM15


An age of opportunity for volunteer managers and the sector
Lynne Berry – Chair, Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing
Lynne Berry – slides


Harnessing the voice of the volunteer
Oonagh Aitken – CEO, Volunteering Matters
Oonagh Aitken – slides


Workshop A – Accessibility in action: sharing good practice on involving volunteers with disabilities
Anne-Marie Zaritsky – Mencap
Emily Hughes – Parkinson’s
A – Accessibility – slides


Workshop B – Securing board and CEO engagement and approval for your volunteering strategy
Chris Reed – Barnado’s
B – CEO engagement – slides
B – Engagement strategy


Workshop C – Grow your charity online – how your organisation can grow it’s online reach
Naomi Sesay – The Media Trust
Slides coming


Workshop D – Volunteer management: the essentials
Sheila Norris – Camden Volunteer Centre
Evelyn Rodrigues – Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre
D – Vol Man Essentials – slides


Workshop E – Engaging student volunteers
Rosie Hunnam – NUS
Tony Payne – Student Volunteering Network and Canterbury College Students’ Union
E – Engaging student vols – slides


Workshop F – Strategic volunteering that pays – a new approach to employer supported volunteering for charities
Sophie Martin – Age UK
F – Employer supported vol – slides