When it comes to cultivating personal and professional connections, most people understand that it’s important to have networks, but they may not know why that is so. They may already be part of many social or professional networking circles but not understand how to leverage those networks effectively.
Many people don’t realise how important it is to build networks, and as a result, they don’t put time and energy into making connections. There are a few key reasons why it’s important to be an active participant in professional networks, especially within academia.
How and why you need to use a professional network effectively
To use your professional network effectively, you first have to be proactive in building relationships. You may believe that you are already an efficient networker because everyone within your school environment already provides you with much of what you might need from a network, such as support, encouragement, and ideas.
But limiting yourself to just a single network is restricting the possibilities available to you. Connections with others hold countless possibilities for collaboration, information sharing and building new opportunities.
Building contacts across multiple networks is a more effective strategy than continually relying on those immediately around you. Connecting to like-minded people gives you access to the things that they share, such as certain forms of content or media that means if they come across something that might interest you, they can share it. Connections that span multiple networks also provide access to a larger pool of people who may have skills or experiences that are helpful for your own professional development and advancement.
For schools, the benefits of teachers and headteachers networking can include discovering new and interesting IT solutions to common school situations. Connecting to administrators who use social media regularly can provide access to online communities that can help them learn more about what’s available in the world of information technology.
How to develop your network of contacts
When it comes to building a network of contacts, there are a few specific things you can do in an academic setting. First, make sure you attend events and meetings. These are great opportunities to be introduced to people who work in different areas. Attend union meetings, request to meet the headteachers of neighbouring schools, or hold an event at your school for like-minded individuals to visit and converse on relevant topics.
Networking used to, almost exclusively, mean having to attend business events and mingle, but in these modern times, social media has revolutionised the speed and ease with which you can develop your network.
It is very simple to connect to professionals in your field and strike up a conversation on social media. Twitter and LinkedIn are particularly popular with teachers and those in leadership positions. Using these platforms, it is easy to contribute to ongoing conversations and help develop ideas. In doing so, not only are you opened up to new ideas and streams of information, but you add your knowledge to the conversation. This rarely goes unnoticed, and over time this will result in contacts that will call on you for input and become available to you to do the same.
The benefits of network building
Once you’ve built your network, it’s important to maintain that relationship. Connect with people on a regular basis. Having a personal connection is key to getting career support and professional insight. Connecting regularly will also ensure that you remain on people’s radar, so if an opportunity comes up, they will be more likely to think of you.
Building a professional network might seem tedious and time-consuming at first, but the rewards outweigh any potential challenges. Getting support from colleagues and friends in your field is very valuable during tough times, and the insight of leaders is valuable during good times. Connecting frequently helps you stay up-to-date on trends in your field, and it provides networking opportunities that can lead to new collaborations and projects.
By building your networks, you will be able to connect with people who have the influence and resources to provide you with many new opportunities. Connections can open doors for you on a wide scale, so it’s important to make those connections as strong as possible. Connecting on a regular basis is a great way to do that.
There are many benefits to be gained from building your networks. Connecting with other professionals can help you learn new skills, exchange ideas, and find opportunities. Collaborating with others can help you achieve your goals faster and more effectively. And by changing the way you think about networking, you can start to see the tremendous value in developing and nurturing relationships with people who can help you reach your goals.
Give back to your networks
Networking is a two-way street that can provide many benefits for both you and your contacts. When you give back, you show your gratitude and appreciation for the help and support that they have provided. You also demonstrate your commitment to the relationship, and this can encourage others to continue to help and support you in the future.
There are many ways to give back to your networks. You can provide support and advice to others, offer help with projects, or simply connect with them on a regular basis. Connecting with others is one of the most important things you can do to show your appreciation and gratitude. It helps keep the relationship strong and allows you to stay up to date on what is happening in each other’s lives. By offering up your skills and opinions regularly, you keep yourself on your contacts’ radar, so if an opportunity comes up, they will be more likely to think of you.
Building your networks is all about sharing and giving back. Connecting with new people provides many opportunities for growth and development, but it takes work. Connecting on a regular basis and offering support and advice to others is an effective way of strengthening the relationships in your networks. Connecting with people who can provide you with insight, opportunities, and career guidance will help you progress through your field. Connecting on a regular basis makes it much easier for both you and your contacts to remember each other when opportunities arise.
Connecting with other professionals can help you learn new skills, exchange ideas, and find opportunities. Contributing to ongoing conversations on a regular basis is an effective way of strengthening the relationships in your networks. Meeting with people who can provide you with insight, opportunities, and career guidance will help you progress through your field.
Developing professional connections may seem challenging at first, but it pays off quickly as these relationships prove themselves invaluable. When building your network, make sure that what comes around goes around! It’s also important to give back by providing support or advice often, so they know how valuable this relationship is to you.