Recently, in the EAIE Group on LinkedIn, group member Martin Tillman asked a simple question:
How do you build and sustain an effective professional network?
Specifically, he asked to hear from
...those who have been in the field [of international education] at least 5 to 10 years re: successful approaches...to building and sustaining your professional connections. Has it become easier or more difficult over time? Do you think the focus and context of our work creates unique opportunities to build professional connections?
This made me think about my own practice in this area over the past decade or so, and here's my answer:
I don't think there's anything unique about my profession's opportunities for building professional connections.
[This made me think about how to build – and sustain –
an effective professional network]
For me, network-building and maintenance come mostly from the following channels, methods and sources:
1. Speaking at conferences
Presenting ideas and experiences attracts input and collaboration from people with similar problems and interests.
2. Publishing in the profession
Writing for my peers in journals, magazines, websites, and blogs (such as Alumni Futures) generates global interaction, brainstorming, and debate around shared interests and challenges.
3. Using tools to connect with others
LinkedIn is a perfect example of a tool that accomplishes a traditional function (professional networking) in a new way (online).
4. Serving the profession
As a volunteer leader or as a contributor via professional organizations such as CASE, EAIE and other groups, on organizing committees for conferences, and in other capacities, I have met countless others who share my interest in developing deeper connections and a broader network.
How do you build and sustain your professional network?
Leave a comment.
Image: Visual representation of my current LinkedIn network, from LinkedIn Labs. Click to view larger.