We don’t have all the answers on our own. We don’t possess all the skills necessary to get the job done. Collaboration is one of the greatest keys to success. We gain a fresh perspective when we work with others, learn from them, communicate and clarify our own goals, and get feedback. When we are connected with people within our field or someone who has a contrasting or supporting role, we are sure to be challenged and grow.
I tend to approach networking with an open mind. I don’t always know why someone will benefit me or what I could add to their life, but I’m available to see what will come of the association. And I’m usually pleasantly surprised. I listen, I learn, and I’m willing to share my own expertise or insight. There are times when I need to seek out someone for specific information or help with a particular project. There are times when I think they need to hear some important advice. But typically, I don’t enter relationships with preconceived notions or goals. It is usually after the fact when I realize the full value of the relationship. Networking is a way of life.
I’m a third grade teacher. Last week I went to a national teaching convention. I heard amazing speakers and came home with pages full of notes. However, the people I met from other schools across the nation and the informal conversations we had throughout the week proved to be the most rewarding parts of the conference. I was able to hear how they worked through challenges similar to those we are facing in our school. I was inspired by some of the new ideas and innovative technologies other schools are implementing. I shared with them some of the unique approaches I have taken and the results of those efforts. We learned so much from each other. The relationships built over this week involve risk and require effort, but the reward is that these conversations and sustained friendships will spark creativity and improvement in my teaching strategies as I continue to progress.
This is why I’m excited to attend TEDxSanAntonio this year. I know I will meet people and hear ideas that will change the course of my life. My world will broaden as I go beyond my own limited knowledge and learn from others. And I know that I have something to offer those relationships as well. To find out more about applying to attend this year’s TEDxSanAntonio event, visit the website at http://www.tedxsanantonio.com/attendees/
How has networking affected your life?
Lauren Bleser is a third grade teacher dedicated to improving the quality of education available for all. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenbleser.