Steven Groner, Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Success
Kaskaskia College, Centralia Illinois
PRACTICE THE "ASK" (For Project Involvement)
Kaskaskia College is one of ten members of the ECIA project powered by Coleman. We have a number of program delivery formats, so for the year ahead we are focusing on strengthening the infrastructure that supports entrepreneurship. We elected to expand our internal team and have used NACCE tools to elevate the involvement of our president (President's Pledge, Essential Practices Series and the NACCE2014 Annual Conference). Having Dr. Underwood participate in the Effectuation Master Class and the annual conference was powerful. We were able to focus on how to infuse entrepreneurship into all that we do for several days. "The future of work" topic continues to prompt discussion and will be the lead topic as we approach career & tech faculty. The fact that 50% of current students will be self-employed at some point in their career elicits conversation from all groups approached so far.
We returned from the conference with the helpful reminder- "make sure that the rest of the school knows what we are up to". We set out to talk to various groups immediately:
Announced our ten month project at staff & faculty professional development day
Spoke to the college vice presidents (with the meeting called by the president)
Talked to feeder high school district superintendents and advisors (two separate groups)
Introduced our project to the KC Foundation at their quarterly meeting, and as part of the president's welcome
Met with Business Department faculty and their clubs to ask for student co-creators
Participated in a high school career fair day and prepared a special flyer on the future of work
Began to outline our marketing communication plan with the public relations group
Introduced our project and needs to Alumni Relations staff
In each meeting we are practicing; a) asking for suggestions and, b) asking for participation. We are making the "Ask" a habit. We have gone back through notes from various NACCE Breakout Sessions to prepare for each group met with. Our "pitch" has differed for each audience.
A challenge that we face is: how to move beyond polite listeners in our group meetings to creating action and buy-in? We know that continuous follow-up must be scheduled for each initial contact, and we will make our ASK more specific with each meeting as we learn their affordable loss and other insights. During the next four weeks, we are targeting the Career & Tech faculty for one-on-one sessions of asking and listening. We are also tackling the Board of Trustees- as individuals and as a group. We are looking for project champions and co-creators.
Respect each audience and encourage open discussion. LISTEN. Tailor each session to the targeted audience. Keep asking about what they are interested in and why.
Ask for involvement, over and over. Develop specific requests wherever possible and move out of generalities.
Use YouTube, the Internet and other visual sources to help people quickly grasp the entrepreneurial method. Entrepreneurship can be a tough concept to grasp, with many holding a narrow preconception of what it is. Try to get onto a common page of understanding quickly. Gifted speakers may be brought into your school meetings and discussions through the Worldwide Web to help break through common stereotypes. Pick the right length and content for each targeted audience.