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 and decide if you are going to call or email:
3. Choose a topic on which to focus:
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.
When you call the applicant or their parents, you'll be asked to leave a short comment indicating how the call went or if you left a message. This is important so that your fellow volunteers and others in the organization know you made the call. If you email, the message will be added to applicant's contact log automatically.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-AFS-INFO, option 1 to get more information about their application or the program for which they are applying.
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. 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.