Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development

By Sherry L. Muller; Mark Overmann | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
The Art of Networking

Most everyone agrees that we ought to network, but we rarely reflect on how to do it most effectively and with the most positive results. Is there a certain formula that equates to successful networking? A certain type of event we must attend or a certain kind of person we should engage? A certain number of business cards we should collect?

Furthermore, we seldom stop to consider the question of what networking is exactly anyway. All professionals know the term, but it is likely that almost everyone has a different answer for what it means to them. Is networking only about going to networking events? Or does it have other facets as well? Conducting an informational interview? Talking to someone on the subway or an airplane? Chatting with a friend of a friend at a happy hour? Networking could be any or all of these things. It need not be confined to any one of them.

For Sherry, going to networking events and putting yourself in contact with potential employers or other people knowledgeable about the fields of international education, exchange, and development is invaluable. Yet she also advises professionals to avoid viewing these structured networking events as the only times that they need to “be on.” Rather, for Sherry, you are always networking, or forever at the crossroads. You are constantly being judged as a professional and you never know when a seemingly innocuous situation may help you—or haunt you—in the future.

Mark is less comfortable than Sherry with the idea of attending a multitude of networking events. He explores the question of how a professional might effectively network if he or she is uncomfortable with approaching new people at a networking event. While he does not advocate abandoning the idea of attending events altogether, Mark suggests that you must be strategic about the events you choose to attend.

-22-

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