Building Collaboration with Campus

As a higher education marketing professional, I am a huge believer in relationships. They matter to our success. Being in a new role at a new university, I’ve spent much of my six months trying to build relationships with both the campus and the team.

Honest moment, I’ve had some moments that’s gone really well and a few it hasn’t gone perfectly. However, relationships, like anything in life, take work, intentionality, and practice.

What You Get from Strong Campus Relationships

  1. Trust – When you propose a new idea or have a creative approach to test out.
  2. Support – When you need extra assistance, need resources, or need help.
  3. Grace – When mistakes happen or when things don’t go as planned.

5 Tips to Proactively Build Strong Campus Partnerships

As I think about how I try to build relationships with campus or with my team, here are a few of the tips that I regularly use to help in this process:

  1. Get Out – It is critical to get out of the office to meet people and get to know campus parters. This can be as easy as making it a point to attend at least one campus event each week. If you think about that, that is about 50+ opportunities to engage with campus and build relationships.
  2. Meet Regularly – If there are certain departments you really want to partner with, there is no better way to make that a priority than to schedule time to meet. The hour every week or two can help make sure you’re on the same page about projects, but it also helps to build the personal relationship, so you know about each other as people. The importance of this can’t be overlooked.
  3. Share Successes – Regularly taking the time to share the outcomes of projects and keep the campus department is informed is an easy way to build collaboration. I recently worked with a school on an advertising effort. Each month I took the time to share the analytics with them, and that played huge dividends. They felt incredibly involved (it was their funding) and now want to continue that work. However, more than anything, that helped me build a campus ally that I can regularly engage with in other ways.
  4. Check In Periodically – This one came from a prior lesson-learned. At a prior institution, I received feedback that I wasn’t doing enough to support campus departments in their marketing efforts. That simply wasn’t true. However, they weren’t hearing from me. As a result, I scheduled a monthly email check in with them to share website traffic data and advertising data with them. Within 6 months, the narrative had significantly changed, I was a huge advocate for the departments and they appreciated my work. The only change was the collaborative communication. This lesson has stayed with me, and I now try to do this with all campus partners.
  5. Say Thanks – A note or a small gesture to thank those campus partners can go a huge way in building collaboration. It doesn’t have to be much, but it is important that partners know the work they do matters to you. I once took donuts to a campus partner. I ordered flowers for a different campus partner. Recently, I wrote a blog post about celebrating teams. Here it is if you want to explore this topic further.

Want More Ideas?

These are just a few of the ways to build collaboration with others on campus. The list can go on. A few years ago, I wrote an article for the AACRAO SEM journal about building collaboration. It has some additional tips if you’re interested in learning more about ways to build collaboration.

The tips are geared for Admissions and MarComm partnerships, but I do think many of these apply to other areas of our work.

The Bottom Line

We create the culture of collaboration that we want on our campuses. It doesn’t happen just by accident, so I think it’s important to find prioritize collaboration to enhance our work with our campus partners.

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