This article discusses where to find and how to contact sending leads. When looking to contact "leads," we suggest you specifically focus on students in the Get Started stage of the sending journey.
Find Sending Leads
Like many parts of Global Link, there is more than one way to find sending leads in your team. This article will discuss:
- utilizing the MyAFS Sending Widget
- using the Sending Lead Management system in Global Link
- finding leads through the Sending Pipeline Report
Utilizing the MyAFS Sending Widget
In four easy steps the widget helps you to “Say Hello” to new sending applicants in your area! This is what the widget will look like on the MyAFS home screen:
1. Find an applicant to contact:
2. Read about the applicant:
3. Think about what you might say:
Hearing from someone local early in the study abroad journey builds trust, and having a local connection is often the key touch point in a family’s decision to study abroad with AFS!
Remember that when you “Say Hello” you are welcoming the student to the AFS family and your local team.
This conversation isn’t designed for you to sell or talk about a specific program but rather to introduce the student to the AFS mission and the AFS community in their own backyard. Phone calls are most effective, and if you are able to reach a parent, even better!
Some great conversation starters might be:
* Asking why the student is interested in going abroad and sharing what AFS means to you
* Inviting the student to a local event
* Offering to connect them with a local returnee you know
* Sharing the name of your local team and how many people volunteer locally
* Talking about how many hosted participants you have and from where they came
To learn more about helping students go abroad, check out Help & Learning here.
There are more calling tips available here too.
4. Say Hello and Log your Contact!
When you reach out, you should be introducing the applicant and their family to your Area Team. Help them understand how special the AFS family is to you and all the different ways they can get involved.
Then, tell us how your call went! Completing this box will update the student's Global Link Contact Log.
Students will likely have questions for you. Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers! Study Abroad Specialists are waiting to hear from them. Point them to email@example.com or 1-800-AFS-INFO, option 1 to get more information about their application or the program for which they are applying.
If you want to reach out again to the student and/or parents, you can find the student again under the "Interested" tab or by using Sending Lead Management in Global Link as outlined below.
Using the Sending Lead Management System in Global Link
Sometimes it is helpful to contact students beyond the Say Hello message available via the Sending Widget. All Sending Coordinators and Sending Volunteers have access to this Sending Lead Management tool in Global Link, found by clicking on the Lead Management option in Global Link's left-hand menu:
Attached here are instructions for finding and contacting Get Started students in your Team. Some additional talking points are found below.
Finding Leads through the Sending Pipeline Report
The Sending Pipeline Report is available to all AFS volunteers in the Reports section of Global Link. This report includes all students with open files (service cases) with AFS. That means, it includes both leads (those who are interested in learning more) and applicants (those who have started their journey). To access this report, find the Reports option on the left-hand side of Global Link and then look for Sending Pipeline under the Sending Reports here:
The report reflects whether or not an applicant has completed the “About Participant” portion of their application and a time/date stamp of when this section was completed. This will indicate to you that the applicant will now appear on the “Say Hello” widget on MyAFS. This way, you can pull the report as an excel file and sort through those applicants who are also appearing in “Say Hello.”
For more on this report, please see the Find Sending Applicants article.
Contact Sending Leads
Reaching out to Sending Leads (students in the Get Started stage) to give them a local contact and provide them an avenue for asking questions about AFS allows students to move forward in the application process with confidence, realistic expectations, and direction. Our Study Abroad Specialists in New York currently do not have the capacity to proactively reach out to Get Started students, which is why it is so critical for volunteers and TDS staff to do this out reach whenever possible. A new MyAFS widget is coming soon to help facilitate volunteer outreach.
Click here for some specific talking points when calling Get Started students.
Some general tips:
* ASK, don’t tell. Engage students with open-ended questions then let them convince themselves! Ask how they heard about AFS, what got them interested, and what they hope to get out of the experience. They won’t always talk your ear off, but sometimes you’ll uncover useful clues or ways you can relate your own experiences with studying abroad to what they’re about to take on. Once they’ve told you their reasons, be supportive and reaffirm that their interest is a good thing! They may not be hearing that anywhere else. Leave them with a simple roadmap of what to do next to get started.
* The more calls you make, the more kids will take. If you agree to call 40 students, 15 will answer their phones, 10 will be interested, 5 will eventually apply, and 1 will actually go. Don’t be discouraged by this, let it motivate you to make more calls and reach out to more students in your area. That said, providing special attention to the students you know are truly motivated to go can often make all the difference, so make sure to balance quantity with quality relationships! Having a local contact and encouragement can make all the difference for a student and his/her parents.
*Get comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. It’s okay to not know all the answers when you call: you don’t have to. It’s great if you can point students in the direction of the information they’re looking for on the website – or ask your sending coordinator or study abroad specialist to help follow up. We are working with a lot of intangibles here at AFS – sometimes right up until the point a student leaves. We have to generalize a lot, and it can be very helpful to start setting expectations by saying, “well it depends.” Flexibility will help students succeed as AFSers.
* Don’t give up on leads! Even if they are super interested and sends you a thousand emails, sometimes nothing happens and they don’t fill out the pre-app. Not to worry, check in with them in a few months and chances are they will be ready. And always, ALWAYS call them twice (or email, if that’s how they like to communicate). Kids these days are going in a thousand different directions, and sometimes calling them in a couple weeks after they’ve had time to mentally process your voicemail and email really works. Making a strong connection with parents is also incredibly worthwhile.