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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.