Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing on networking. Whether it’s how networking is useful or what kinds of networking prove ineffective, I want to know more about it. Unlike your parents’ generation, you have the capacity to network from anywhere. Cell phones and laptops have revolutionized networking. Has it made the job search easier? Most likely, the answer is no. Regardless of what type of networking you have done in the past or you wish to do in the future, you will need to become an aggressive networker.
My recent interest in social networking came about when I truly explored networking opportunities that I had previously overlooked. For example, I’ve talked before about tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but as a teacher I typically turned to niche blogs or subject-related associations. Education-related networking had appeared fragmented to me until I found some great articles that encouraged me to look further into sites I was already using. Though I know many other industries have a strong presence on Twitter (i.e. advertising and marketing), I didn’t pay much attention to how I can use it for teaching. Then, I started following educational companies and advocacy groups and saw a myriad of information. I learned that I can ask any education-related question and receive a prompt response, simply because other educators are using the same hashtag. It always amazes me the level that professionals will go to to help one another. I know many others who will tell you that having a mentor has been imperative to success. I would like to add that having ‘online support’ can act as a form of mentorship. It opened up a new world to me: the ability to exchange work-related information with people in different states and different countries.
It is imperative that you look at your social networking sites and see if you are using them as effectively as possible. That call to action is what inspired me to participate in more online chats, join career-related groups, and befriend companies and associations that assist with my career.
I am confident that I am not the only one who has found such experiences rewarding. In this article from 2011, Alexis Grant discusses how to combine traditional networking efforts with interactive networking efforts. One thing that I found interesting is how technology can hurt you if you squander an in-person opportunity. As Grant mentions, a preoccupation with your phone can distract you from connecting with others at a coffee shop, during your commute, or while waiting in line at a store. Remember that networking can happen anywhere! Even if you aren’t job searching, a new contact is always a positive thing.
Do you have any success stories when it comes to networking?
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