The power of networking

I read with great interest a series of posts by participants on a Diverse Leaders: Women in Leadership programme in response to a challenge set by the wonderful Jaz Ampaw-Farr.  Jaz posed these questions to encourage reflection on how networking might support our leadership journey:

1) WHAT’S YOUR WHY FOR NETWORKING? 

2) WHAT COULD YOU DO, THAT WON’T TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF YOUR TIME, TO CONNECT AND ENGAGE? 

3) WHAT CAN/DO YOU OFFER TO OTHERS?

The questions made me thoughtful, so I decided to share my own responses.

  1. I taught for 30 years before finishing in 2010, following ten years as a head.  I loved my time in education, especially headship, but felt ready for a different challenge.  I started leadership consultancy work, and doing some writing on education.  I embarked on a doctorate researching the transition from deputy to head. And then in 2011 I discovered Twitter…. For me, Twitter, the world of blogging and spin-off events like #TeachMeets, #LeadMeets and conferences offer a tremendous opportunity to connect, to build relationships (professional and personal), to contribute and to benefit.  Why is this important?  I have always felt positive relationships are the secret to a life well-lived.  Through Twitter and blogging I have met so many amazing people, from whom I have learnt and with whom I now feel a strong connection.  It isn’t about developing my career, at this post-career stage for me, but it is about enriching my life.
  2. Time is less of an issue for me than for many of those with whom I engage because I only work part-time and am able to control my professional commitments in a way I know many find much more challenging.  But I still need to watch balance.  I used to follow a large number of blogs and receive an email alert with each new post.  I had to change that because it was overwhelming at times when I was busy working, so now I search out and read what I can in the time I have and try not to worry too much that, inevitably, I miss some good stuff.  I spend time on Twitter every day, I share blogs when I can, I keep writing about and talking about educational leadership – and if anyone asks for individual help or advice I give it if I possibly can.
  3. I am committed to supporting aspiring and serving leaders, of all genders, at all levels, so if I can read a draft letter, talk through interview preparation, recommend blogs and articles and put people in contact with others who can help them, I am very keen to do this. A net has both threads and cross-threads, so putting our contacts in contact with other contacts is really important, I think.  I can talk about leadership in a range of contexts and I really enjoy this, including in connection with #WomenEd, about which I feel passionate.  I find networking energising, empowering, joyful.

Do connect with me, and with others, and enjoy the experience!

Photo credit: John Berry – Telegraph Festival of Education, 2016

This post was originally published on @staffrm earlier in the year.

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