Expand Your Network

How many of you have heard a professional or an instructor say “It’s a small field?” I heard it in graduate school, I have heard it at conferences and in the office, I have even caught myself using this phrase – because it is true!

I’m not going to describe the countless times I have made new connections based off of shared connections. Instead, I will talk about why we should expand our network.

Student affairs did not become a small field without professionals collaborating across departments, divisions, colleges, and universities. Our pioneers built relationships elsewhere and outside of their main networks and inner circles. We young professionals must do the same.

Join a Conference
NASPA, ACPA, NACA, NODA, whichever your structure and organization of choice, has made it easy for us to be involved at the conference level. Whether attending young professional geared sessions or participation in committees, the opportunities are there. Conference structures are a door to expanded networks, new connections, and professional development.

Utilize Social Media
The creation of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites now more than ever has helped shrink this field further. I sit on the Diversity Action Group committee for the National Association for Campus Activities and follow professionals from that group on Linked In. Social media is our way for us young professionals to further connect. Twitter hashtag #sachat makes it easy for professionals to actively join in discussions each week. There are Facebook groups which are created for professionals to further connect and bounce ideas off one another. The social media opportunities are there for us as professionals.

Traditional Approaches
Use the phone. I’m currently working on a research project for my office which is requiring me to connect a few minutes with colleagues in my position at colleges and universities all over the U.S. In some cases I can’t find an email and have to make the blind call! What usually transpires from the phone conversation are a lot of helpful notes and new connections. So, be bold young professionals it never hurts to try.

Me personally, I see no excuses for us professionals not to attempt to expand our networks. It might take time. Be genuine with every connection because your interaction is not only a reflection on you but the academy you represent.

How have you Expanded your Network?

Joshua Wilson

Student Affairs - the First Years

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