The importance of being Earnest (February 18, 2008)
From Case Studies Wiki
The post is just replicated here to catch all the words for archive purposes, to read the post in its original form and see the links, photos, videos etc., go here:http://www.good.group.shef.ac.uk/blog/?p=76
February 18, 2008 The importance of being Earnest Filed under: Mondays » NadineWills @ 5:05 pm I met with Jenny Freeman and Sean Carey today to talk about the upcoming workshop (I just looked for the room today: it’s in Block E on the Lower Level in Room G8). I think I possibly had scared them a little bit before we met because I sent them brief CVs of the other’s work and a couple of sentences about why I thought they should network professionally (and partially to that purpose had organised this workshop for them to both present at). I think that Jenny and Sean are both doing some very interesting things in comparable ways despite their different disciplines (come Thursday at 12:30 to Bartolome House to find out what I am talking about). It’s part of my job to find people like them and make sure that they get to know other people in the University that are doing similar things and - hopefully at the very least - have some great conversations with each other about what they do. If you want me to do this for you, let me know and I will try my best.
I suppose, in the best-case scenario, I see the Case Studies Project as a deus ex machina of sorts: its there when you need it as a hopefully a quick “happy ending” solution (the Teaching Expertise Profiles are supposed to function in this way as well). If you want to get in touch with somebody, or to compare some Learning and Teaching expertise, feel free to phone me up and I’ll try to put you in touch with people. Alternatively, if you see something on this blog or the Case Studies Wiki site, feel free to contact people. They put their information up there to share it with you and many look forward to hearing from you (within reason of course, don’t stalk them).
I know some of you feel very uncomfortable with the idea of networking and have no idea how to do this. Why network and how? Networking that is directed (rather than purely self-promotional for example, which is the reason I think most people shy away from it) is useful for both parties. It helps share resources in a time-efficient manner. I find it only takes 5-15 minutes of my time when targeted. It helps get you in touch with ideas and people that are directly useful to what you are doing and vice versa. Remember, you are speaking with each other to share job-related information rather than for mainly social purposes. Here, I believe it is important and professional not to confuse the two. So, if you are convinced of its usefulness but have absolutely no idea how to begin, here are some suggestions.
To follow up on a “lead”, all you need to do is pick up the phone, dial their extension and say, “Hi, I’m (insert your name here) from (insert where you come from, not in an existential sense but in a literal, University-based sense of course). Nadine Wills from the Case Studies Project suggested that it might be useful if we briefly speak with each other about (insert the topic here). Do you have 10 minutes now to see if this is worthwhile over the phone?” Always ask if they have time. Always mention a name if someone has recommended that you speak to them. Remember that they may be running off to a meeting or busy so do not take it personally if they are not free but most will suggest a better time to talk. Remember that, like yourself, most people have very tight schedules so do not suggest an hour-long meeting or “lunch” in the first instance as this is too much of a commitment for someone they do not know and which may not be necessary or appropriate.
Only proceed to talk with them if they answer affirmatively. Know why you are talking to them (i.e. Can you recommend some good online resources for help in writing my one lecture in teaching stats? I’m interested in assessing groupwork and hear you are too, what do you do?). Do not take up too much of their time and have a specific goal in mind/outcome for talking with them. If you do these things, you will find that most people in the University are willing to speak with you and, if not, usually will be able to give you a good reason (such as they can think of someone better for you to talk to). It really is as easy as that. This initial contact may give you all you need, or you may both feel that it is useful to set up a time to meet. If you have the time , it is nice to write them a “thank you” email afterwards for their time but not absolutely necessary.
I think the only key in this is that you contact someone earnestly (I think some people cast aspersions on ’networking’ because they assume that nothing of genuine value is actually being exchanged, which is actually the opposite point of real networking). Talk to people because you are truly interested in something they are doing and want to hear more about what they do or want their advice. Most people are happy to give what they can or will pass you on to someone who can be of more help. This is a much more directed way of finding out what people are doing and sharing what you do with people around the University but just as useful as going to a Workshop or reading a Case Study.
Nadine Wills, LeTS