By Misbah Gedal
As an educator, networking may not be at the top of the list of the skills you think you should develop. Most of your best work is carried out by yourself in the four walls of your classrooms – and as we’ve figured here at Wakelet, you tend to be fiercely independent and happy to get things done solo.
But incredible things start to happen when you begin to build out your circle, and make new connections with other educators. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the methods and benefits of making new friends in the world of education!
Why should I start networking as an educator?
The online EdTech community is one of the most passionate, giving, and diverse communities on the planet. If you haven’t got involved in the community yet – then there is no better time to start than now!
The EdTech community is largely centred around a few amazing platforms and key individuals that run pages, blogs and social accounts. By making friends within this community, you’re not only broadening your network, but putting yourself out there for new opportunities to further your professional development and your career.
On top of that, being an educator is often a thankless profession with lots of pressure. Sometimes it’s difficult to get affirmation and appreciation from the people within your school and district. Being a part of a wider global community provides ample opportunities to recontextualise your profession, and hear from people who truly appreciate its nuances and challenges.
When it comes to professional development, we’ve seen so many educators join Twitter, get involved in activities within the educator community, make friends with EdTech companies, attend and contribute to conferences, appear on webinars, and supercharge their own personal brands in a very short time. If you’re looking to explore moving into an EdTech career for example, being active within the EdTech community is the first step in standing out, and making an impression.
What are the best ways to grow my network as an educator?
There are plenty of ways to start expanding your circle and making meaningful connections with other educators across the world. Remember – it’s not about trying to grow your follower count or get as many likes as possible. The emphasis here is on meaningful connections – those that are mutually beneficial and inspiring. Here are some tried and tested ways to start growing your network:
- Get active on social media
Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of social media, it is still the single most powerful way to meet and connect with other educators. Twitter has a very passionate and active community of educators – so get on there, search for a subject you’re interested in, and follow some educators who are posting interesting things. Contribute to the community by posting and commenting your thoughts and ideas, and make use of hashtags to ensure your posts get seen.
Following active, consistent accounts is a great way to learn new things and see what’s happening in the world of education. Follow the social profiles of your favorite platforms too – because they’ll frequently announce competitions and opportunities that you can get involved in.
We know that physically attending events and conferences isn’t always the easiest option. It can be expensive to travel to a conference and pay for accommodation etc. However you can campaign to your district or school to pay for you to attend – providing you show them the value that comes from you going. Events are an amazing place to not only discover new platforms and tools for your school, but also to learn the latest trends and initiatives before anyone else.
On a more personal level however, events are an incredible opportunity to meet new people. If you do attend an event, make sure to check out the meetups and parties put on by some of the coolest EdTech companies, as these are a chance to meet new people who share the same interests. Many successful projects and collaborations have been started at meetups like this – and whether it’s in the conference hall, the lunch area or the booths, you’ll be sure to meet people that can change the trajectory of your professional development in awesome ways. If you can’t travel to an event, then there are some amazing online conferences that are free to attend. Wakelet Community Week for example lets you take part in a week of amazing PD, as well as networking sessions where you can build friendships with educators from across the world.
- Join community programs
One of the most effective ways to grow your network is through joining a community program hosted by a platform or company in the edtech space (like Wakelet, Flipgrid, Microsoft, and Google) or an organization (like CUE, NYSCATE and ISTE.)
These programs attract some of the most ambitious, passionate, and talented educators from all over the world – and can often transform your career through various opportunities. The Wakelet Community for example empowers educators to share their voice and expertise through webinars, appearing on podcasts, writing guest blogs and even representing the platform at events.
Community programs also have a great network effect – they open the doors to some wonderful collaborative opportunities with other educators you would have otherwise not met. Becoming an Ambassador for an edtech company not only boosts your professional development, but also gives you a better presence on the EdTech scene in general!
- Don’t be an island
The team here at Wakelet can safely say that the online educator community is the most positive, most passionate, and kindest community out there. It doesn’t matter if you usually prefer to fly solo – the community is filled with people that like to do things alone. But there is so much power in belonging to a huge circle that can support your ideas and value your contributions. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 followers on Twitter or 5,000 – the community will welcome you with open arms, respond to your posts, and be there to listen. The value in simply being a part of that is immeasurable.
There are plenty of ways to expand your circle as an educator – and the benefits of doing so are profound. If you want to make a start today, we welcome you to join the Wakelet Community – a network of tens of thousands of educators across the globe just like you.
With webinars, sessions, access to swag, giveaways and plenty of PD opportunities, you’ll not only feel right at home – you’ll also broaden your reach and meet some phenomenal individuals and form lifetime friendships. As with most loving communities, you’ll come for the PD, but stay for the people.
So put yourself out there, get active on social media, and start building bridges that will take you to places you never imagined!