Recently, I was challenged by a colleague who had attended a Region IV-West conference a couple of years ago and stated emphatically that she would never go back. Of course I was taken aback – How could anyone not have the same love for NASPA as I do? And then she hit me with it, “Everyone was so concerned about getting their next job that no one talked about the issues.” Wow – that stung, as you might imagine, but I didn’t argue with her experience - I’ve just been sorting them out.
For those of you that count on your contacts to get you your next job or next promotion: quit counting. Generally the best a colleague can do is put a good word in for you or encourage someone to take a closer look at your resume. If your skills and experiences don’t meet what is needed for the job, no matter how good of colleagues you are and how much mutual respect there is, it won’t matter. (Trust me, I’ve tried. It was a hard lesson but one that I am better for learning.)
Networking should be about creating professional relationships with colleagues that can help you through rough times or be able to provide perspective on what is happening on your campus – both personally and professionally. Networks are great ways to gather insights into different ways to attack a problem with fraternity advisors or with student apathy, and networking can all be done through face to face meetings at NASPA or through different online social networking. If you are connecting with colleagues to create better experiences for your students, that will speak much more loudly than “I want a job at your institution.”
It has been said that the best way to get your next job is to do your current job well. That message has stuck with me, and I hope it will stick with you. Do your job, do it well, and colleagues will notice and might possibly be willing to put a good word in for you with a job you are applying for, or might even recommend you looking at a new opportunity…just in case.