GSNE Week: Alice Walters on The Art and Science of Networking

I’m Alice Walters, a member of AEA’s Graduate Student and New Evaluator TIG.  I am a doctoral student in human services and work as a non-profit consultant in fund development, marketing, and evaluation.  I share some networking tips, below.

Networking is needed at every career stage.  Review tips and resources to increase your effectiveness.  Enjoy using your networking skills as both art and science to see what serendipitous outcomes transpire!

Hot Tip 1:  Networking is developing informal connections with other professionals.

Building informal connections can occur any time you meet other professionals.  Don’t exclude those outside your usual networks who can be a source of unexpected developments.

Rad Resource: Developing a Strong Professional Network” by the Penn State Alumni Association 

Hot Tip 2:  Networking is more than just about a job hunt. Networking is often associated with job hunting success but it can be much more than that.  Networking can lead you to new avenues, develop new collaborations, and bring attention to your own work in new venues.

Rad Resource: Tips for Successful Business Networking10 Advantages of Business Networking” bySusan M. Heathfield

Hot Tip 3:  Networking is not really an “activity,” it is a lifestyle. Networking is not an isolated activity you add to your calendar.  Instead, it is really a process, approach, and outlook on professional relationships.

Rad Resource: Cheat Sheet: 9 Professional Networking Tips” by Jillian Kurvers

Hot Tip 4:  Networking for the shy – is easier when you don’t think of it as “networking.” Even the most outgoing people can struggle with pressure to force a connection professionally.  Instead, it is better to explore relationships by asking questions that occur naturally to you.

Rad Resource: How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People” by Meridith Levinson

Hot Tip 5:  Networking is an art.  It’s creative, flexible, and individualistic. Use your strengths to network.  Just as art appeals differently to individuals, networking can accommodate a variety of styles.

Hot Tip 6:  Networking is a science.  It deserves study and analysis. Science is study.  Networking is thoughtful.  It seeks to connect the random dots.  Networking requires analysis of input data.  It’s not an oxymoron to look for serendipity.  Serendipity is defined as finding something valuable but not sought for.  Still, if you are looking for connections and value, you will be more likely to find them.

Hot Tip 7:  AEA is a great resource for networking. AEA is the hub of evaluation professionals.  The AEA Topical Interest Groups, conferences, and local affiliates are a great place to start. On the AEA home page go to (third tab to the right):  Read>Links of Interest>Professional Groups

AEA is celebrating GSNE Week with our colleagues in the Graduate Student and New Evaluators AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our GSNE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “GSNE Week: Alice Walters on The Art and Science of Networking”

  1. Hi Alice. My name is Fran Hoffman. I’m a grad student and a budding evaluator. Our evaluation program is relatively new at our school, and we are looking for ways to grow it. Your piece on networking was particularly helpful. I liked what you said about networking being more of a lifestyle than an activity. Thank you for the tips and resources. We will be reaching out to potential clients in the near future, so I’d like to learn all I can about the best ways to approach them and, hopefully, plant those seeds of interest. Looking forward to reading more from you.

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