As a profession, we have a lot to gain from the power of networking. Whether we like it or not, the popular phrase “it’s all about who you know” does have traction when it comes to our careers in Student Affairs. The people we connect with far across the country and world have the power to shift our professional trajectories in remarkable ways. While networking is truly a global phenomenon (especially in the digital age), it is also just as powerful in the microcosm of our very own institutions.
Networking on the institutional level is very different from attending mixers or large conferences and collecting as many business cards as you can. Think about the people you work with. Intentionally or even spur of the moment, you share details of your lives on a daily basis—perhaps during meetings, in the office, or maybe on that rare occasion that you take a break and are not scarfing down lunch at your desks. A large part of networking in any profession is just this: sharing our lives through connections, advice, skills and expertise.
If the sharing—and ultimately networking—is happening this frequently, why not take it one step further? In my mind, this is what makes networking at our own institutions different. It is much more of a personal and in-depth experience.
At my institution, our Campus Life division’s professional development committee recently created such an intentional space to go one step further and explore each other’s passion areas. Once a semester, we gather to share more than just our skills and interest areas; we share our passions with one another in informal 10-minute chats we’ve designed to mimic TED Talks. In a relaxed environment, we share what truly makes each and every one of us tick. From video games to refereeing, bicycling, gardening and wellness, we’ve explored a multitude of fascinating passion areas together.
Uncovering these passion areas proves to be mutually beneficial for all involved. As we build personal and career goals for ourselves, we have a truly connected network of folks to rely on for just about everything. We know who to call when we need a recipe recommendation or when we’re facing a daunting work project we have no expertise in.
Sharing our passion areas with one another has also shown a return on investment when it comes to our students as well. Remember that colleague in the office across campus that shared their passion for film production with the group? They might be a great candidate to advise the newly formed Film Appreciation student organization. Or perhaps may be a great connection for a struggling student who just happens to have a similar passion. You just never know.
With that said, here’s your challenge. Take a moment out of your busy day to share your passions with co-workers at your institution. Explore creating intentional, in-depth spaces for networking. How might your passion areas benefit your colleagues and most importantly the students you serve?
Missed a post? Read the entire Professional Networking Series here.
About the author: Danielle Croegaert oversees over 100 student organizations at Sonoma State University in Northern California’s picturesque Wine Country. In addition to advising student leaders, her current interests include staff development and training, organizational creativity, and leadership/professional identity development. Danielle is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and enjoys sharing her love for cheese and craft beer with anyone who will listen! Beyond her foodie tendencies, she also enjoys shopping and pop culture, cheering on the Green Bay Packers, and contemplating the beginnings of her very own blog.