The National AfterSchool Association is the leading voice of the afterschool profession dedicated to development, education, and care of children and youth during their out of school hours.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Benefits and Power of Networking

Dr. Paul G. Young
President and CEO
One of the most beneficial outcomes of attending a national convention is the opportunity to expand your professional network. I define networking as the activities in which professionals build, maintain, and use relationships whose potential benefits can improve their work. A professional network provides many resources, advantages, and outcomes. One of the most important and valuable outcomes of my own networking has been the opportunity to develop close friendships with outstanding individuals across the country. Much of the time, the work that we do can be isolated and lonely, even though we might work in the midst of the dozens of people. Quite often, when I was dealing with work-related challenges, my co-workers personified them. Because I had built a wide variety of close contacts with respected people who did the same kind of work that I did, I could reach out to them, commiserate, gain support and learn. My network alleviated many moments of loneliness and self-doubt.

I hope we can begin to include you in the network of NAA members.
Another benefit of a professional network is the ability to seek out candidates for jobs and gain special insights about potential employees, trends, issues, and opportunities. Since interviewing has become an antiquated and often meaningless practice, I relied upon my network for much more trustworthy information about job candidates. It led to better hires.

Networking will increase your visibility. And the more you increase your visibility, the more power and status you can attain, assuming you are credible in what you say and do. The more you increase your visibility, the easier it becomes to network.

So, I encourage you to regularly join your colleagues at local, state, and national professional development gatherings. Be there. Talk with people in elevators, hallways, restaurants, and while touring, shopping, or working out – even relaxing in the bar. Share your work experiences. Discover similarities. Celebrate diversity.  Listen and learn. Trade business cards. Remember names and locations. Follow up afterwards.
In case you’ve never heard it before, it’s hard to be a prophet in your own land. But you can gain recognition, support, friendship, and new ideas from your networking efforts. Join us in Orlando, Florida, April 15-18, 2011, where NAA will provide you a national platform to build and expand your network among more than 2000 professionals that do what you do – afterschool.