About two weeks ago, more than three hundred student leaders converged in Orlando, Florida for the Lead365 conference. There were student leaders from the Virgin Islands, from Mexico, from South Dakota, from Delaware, from New York… from almost anywhere you can imagine! For three days together we learned life’s lessons, created connections, and made memories. And just like that, the conference was over. We hopped on our planes, trains, and busses back to our hometowns.

Have you heard from anyone since?

No, your own classmates do not count. I want to know if you have spoken with anyone from a different school than your own. We were supposed to stop networking and start connecting, weren’t we? So why haven’t we contacted any of our new friends?

Our issue might lie in our interpretation of “Explore. Engage. Evolve.” Some of us may have been led to believe that the process is linear.

We explored opportunities for leadership growth and choose to attend Lead365.

We engaged with an amazing staff to learn invaluable skill sets.

We evolved our programs back at campus by utilizing our new growth and skill sets to make new, and probably necessary, changes.

And then we stopped.

But why have we stopped? The process was never intended to be linear, it was intended to be a never-ending cycle. We need to go back to the beginning.

We need to re-Explore. What does your program do well? What does your program need to work on? It seems like every school has a leadership program nowadays. Do you think that one of your new connections from the conference may have a similar problem? Maybe you can work it out together. Do you think that one of your new connections may actually have a strength where you have a weakness? Maybe he can tell you what he does so that you can adapt your own program to be more successful.

At Lead365, Marlon Smith challenged us to keep our arms raised for three straight minutes. It was hard on our own. But when we heard the feel-good vibe of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” over the speaker system, it suddenly was not as challenging anymore. We could hold each other up. Together, we can achieve more than any of us can achieve alone.

And that is why it is so necessary for us to re-Engage. Make the first move. Message your new friend from Baltimore. The conversation does not need to be long. Just let her know that you were thinking of her and was wondering how she was doing. It can be a small gesture with profound effects. You never know when you might have a problem that she’ll understand, and maintaining that friendship is the best way to ensure that help will always be there for you when you are in need.

But don’t just stop there, re-Evolve. Use the process to keep growing. The name of the conference is Lead365, not Lead3. So spend 365 days a year exploring, engaging, and evolving. Our greatest success lies not in what we learned in three days at a conference, but rather in teaching what we learned in the other 362.

Jordan Griffen is a Leadership Mentor at SUNY-Geneseo in Geneseo, NY. Should you wish to move from networking to connecting with him, you can find him on LinkedIn or Facebook!


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