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Networking Redefined Part I: Building authentic relationships during student teaching, the job search, and beyond

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When meeting with students, I have commonly observed a tendency of students cringing the second that I mention the word "networking". This negative perception of networking originates largely from the popular misconception that it's nothing more than fake, small talk. While some individuals perpetuate this stereotype, over the next two weeks I will present seven pieces of advice for building authentic relationships that will be helpful during the teaching job search and beyond.

1. Do your research about school districts before reaching out to administrators and teachers, so you can have specific questions and demonstrate that you are well informed and truly interested in the position.

2. Be yourself; be genuine when reaching out to others. Administrators can usually tell when someone is being fake or lying. Saying the right things without meaning them usually ends poorly, even if initially unnoticed by administrators and educators. When individuals are hired due to insincerely saying the right things, they quickly become discontent and burn out due to not being truly passionate and committed to the position.

3. Ask administrators and staff about their career path and work experience. One thing that almost everyone likes to talk about is themselves, use that to your advantage and gain insight into potential career paths and inquire about job searching best practices. Additionally, such conversations will help to build rapport and common understanding, especially with alumni from your college or university.

4. Resist the urge to talk solely about yourself. While articulating your experience is important, as I will discuss later, listening can be equally if not more important. When learning about a position and school district, make sure to also listen to what is not said by the contacts. Lastly, ask for contacts' professional opinion and offer them a copy of your resume, as it will allow them to gain a sense of your skills and interests. If they are impressed with your experiences, they will be more likely to speak on your behalf if a position becomes vacant and pass your information along to other contacts.

Joel O'Brien
Career Counselor
Marquette University Career Services Center
Milwaukee, WI

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