My most recent weekend visit to Vermont provided me with some time for introspective reflection. I thought about my strengths and weaknesses, both personally as a friend and professionally as an employee. I thought about what I value in my urban community, and what I miss about my rural roots. I thought about my career path, and those of my parents and friends with whom I spent the weekend.
Upon returning to the city, I also returned to an overflowing inbox demanding my attention. A handful of the new emails were forwarded job opportunities, requests for informational interviews, and reminders of gatherings of various professional networks. I also received the weekly digest of articles sent out by Linked In to members in the “Non-Profit Management” field. One article resonated deeply with me, and pulled together many of the seemingly random streams of thought I’d had recently.
The article, entitled “Forget Networking, How to be a Connector,” describes a type of person who thrives on bringing people together and linking others to opportunities and people who might help them achieve their goals. “Networking I see as a means to an end,” says Jill Leiderman, executive producer of the late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live. But connecting, she explains, is about using a genuine love of meeting people and making friends to engage and assist one another. Exactly! Though there were certainly traits described in the article that don’t match mine, I did finish reading with an excited feeling.
I love listening to friends explain their current challenges, but only if they are willing to listen to the practical and action-oriented advice I craft as they talk. Whenever I see a job opportunity, I take a few minutes to forward it to past interns, volunteers, and recent graduates who might be interested. Somehow I always find time to accept requests for informational interviews. It’s an exciting time in farm-based and outdoor education, and I’m energized by the crowd of people who are trying to enter the field. Hopefully these daily actions will pay off for me as I consider what’s next on my career path and plan a move to Vermont, away from many of my professional networks. Then I will need to depend on other connectors to help me establish myself in a new community. Read the article here, and check out some photos from the weekend in Vermont: