Presentation on theme: "HOW TO CONNECT AGHE webinar series Sponsored by the Faculty Development Committee September 23, 2009."— Presentation transcript:
HOW TO CONNECT AGHE webinar series Sponsored by the Faculty Development Committee September 23, 2009
K. Della Ferguson, Ph.D. Director, Institute of Gerontology Professor of Health Studies Utica College Utica, New York
Connecting FOR WHAT PURPOSE? Conference presentations Journal articles Research Grants Academic appointments Sabbaticals Book contracts
Is this the same as networking? Networking carries a negative connotation- Self promoting and not genuine almost slimy ingratiating oneself to others for gain, for some hidden purpose.
network / nétwerk n. & v. a group of people who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes. (The Oxford Dictionary)
Networking is the art of building alliances. Networking isn't about the quantity of contacts you make Networking, connecting is being a good colleague. It is being friendly, responsible, gracious, doing unto others all the things your mother told you to do
Of course, you should never burn bridges in academia because its such a small world. You never know when that person may be one of your grant reviewers, on a search committee, a referee for one of your articles or book proposals, or even your next Department Chair. This may sound self-serving, but it is only good sense and only requires good manners.
I am not a professional networker. I have however, been in Gerontology for 31 years and have benefited greatly from the relationships I have developed over the years.
Academia is a small world. Let me share with you some of my experiences. I have had research opportunities offered to me from colleagues I met at Gerontology conferences. I have received grants with people I met at conferences I have received grants with former colleagues. I have written letters of support for tenure and promotion for people I served with on professional committees.
My first sabbatical was spent at the school of a person I served with on a Gerontology Society board. I have been offered a book contract because I chatted with a publisher at AGHE conferences over the years. I have journal articles co-authored with people I served with on gerontological committees. Many conference presentations have resulted from the work I did with people I met in Gerontological organizations.
I did not set out to connect with these people for the purpose of getting a grant or a publication, those were byproducts of the relationship.
Getting to know people from schools different from your own is useful. A colleague had tried twice unsuccessfully to secure a large federal grant. He asked me to try the third time. I did get the million dollar grant, but I dont think I would have had I not met a person from a Historically Black College at a conference. A friend of mine introduced us at a coffee break. We began talking about what we were doing. I mentioned the grant that I was working on and she expressed interest. I changed the focus of my grant proposal and included her school, which I am convinced helped me get the grant.
In another situation, I was waiting after a conference presentation by a federal grant agency representative to ask a question about an upcoming grant round. In front of me was a colleague who I had met at my sabbatical years before. He was from a large, urban university. I am from a small, rural college. His question to the presenter was, would we have a better chance if we had a rural partner? The answer was yes. We turned to each other and a partnership was developed. We got the grant.
More and more granting agencies are looking for partnerships urban/rural, large universities/small colleges, town/gown Or grants are aimed at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions who need a partner
In my first example, the HBCU did not have the experience to apply for the grant and I probably would not have gotten it without their partnership. In the second case, the large university clearly had the expertise for the grant, but would not have gotten it without the partnership (they had failed on two earlier rounds). I would never have gotten the grant on my own.
Connecting is mutually helpful.
AGHE is another possible partner. I have successfully partnered with AGHE in a large federal grant. AGHE received needed funds and my application was strengthened by the involvement and endorsement of AGHE.
Get to know your community. Community agencies often need grants but do not have grant writers. Your academic experience and affiliation can help them and their community focus will often strengthen your grant proposal.
These connections are also useful for student placements and research sites. The sites also benefit from student help and the prestige of ongoing research at their facility. Good connections are always mutually beneficial.
Students and junior faculty-do not cut ties to your graduate (or undergraduate) colleagues (students and faculty). A junior faculty member in my school just had a journal article published because she maintained those contacts. She was invited to submit a paper that her former teachers knew she was working on and that fit the theme of a planned journal volume.
I have found that the best place to connect is through Gerontology Organizations. You might think that the larger the better. This has not been my experience.
State meetings are excellent places to meet colleagues. Since they are smaller, you have the opportunity to talk with people. Being in the same state can make collaborative research or grant programs easier to do.
AGHE is known for the openness and friendliness of the meetings. AGHE meetings are excellent for students and junior faculty to make connections. It is a very good idea to join these organizations as a student and attend the annual meetings. There is generally a reduced student fee offered.
Become active-volunteer to serve on a committee or task force Many of my closest colleagues I have met in this manner. But do not over-extend. Do not promise if you cannot fulfill.
Students organizations often have trouble getting student representation on boards or on committees. Do not hesitate to step up.
There are often student sessions. Submit your work. Many Gerontology organizations have student research awards. My experience is that there is usually not heavy competition. Submit for the award. You will meet the leaders of the organization.
A few tips on conference attendance
The name tag is worn on the right side to provide an easy sight-line to your name when shaking hands.
Students are powerful. Nearly everyone wants to help a student. You can ask "dumb" questions, you can be curious; you can talk to people at the highest levels.
It is helpful for students and new faculty (or faculty new to the organization )to attend with a mentor-with someone active in the organization. They can introduce you to members. But you need to strike out on your own also. Students-do not move in a gaggle.
Come early and stay late-the best networking opportunities occur before the session and immediately after the session Use the preliminary program to identify possible contacts-look for speakers in your area of interest. Choose the sessions you attend strategically- introduce yourself to those seated around you
Use the preliminary program to plan your time-participate in small group activities that are available Attend the social events at the conference Feeling shy? Dont know how to start a conversation? It helps to go early. There are fewer people and groups have not yet formed.
Use meal times and breaks to spend time with new people do not return to your hotel room or meet fellow students or old college friends at all of these free times
If looking for a job, register for the placement service Spend time in the exhibits talking with exhibitorsnot just to get free books contacts for future book contracts or possible non-academic jobs
Have plenty of business cards make notations on those you collect to allow for follow-up (otherwise you will get home and forget why you wanted to connect with them) Once you are home, follow up (an is fine) thank them for their time, advice, cup of coffee or glass of wine
Keep line of communication open, without being a pest Invest in relationships. Etiquette matters
The point is, after a time you become known entities to one another. You become members of one another's circle. You'll help one another because you're friends, not because "it will pay off later".
And your professional life will be greatly enhanced not only in terms of success but also in terms of personal satisfaction