IC TIG Week: Susan Wolfe on Networking to Enhance Your Business or Career

Hi, I’m Susan Wolfe. I am the owner of Susan Wolfe and Associates, LLC, an independent consulting firm that applies Community Psychology principles to strengthening organizations and communities.

As an independent consultant and community psychologist, I spend time networking in my local and professional communities.   Networking serves two functions for me.  First, it helps me to learn about the people, organizations, and politics in my local community, so that when I work on local projects I have an understanding of the context.  Second, it gives people and organizations an opportunity to know my business and what we have to offer.  When a project requires an evaluation or one of my peers needs a collaborator, they might call on me first.  An extra benefit is that I have met some interesting people from whom I have learned a lot!  For those of you who work within larger organizations, it helps expands the pool of individuals you can call on for information or assistance and it is useful when you are seeking employment or looking for promotion opportunities.

One way to network is to volunteer and get involved.  If there is an issue you are interested in working on, or an area you would like to learn more about, then see if there is a coalition or group that meets to discuss it and join it.  Within your professional association, seek out volunteer opportunities and leadership positions.

HOT TIP #1:  AEA posts volunteer opportunities on its website and invites members to complete a Volunteer Interest and Capacity Inventory and write blogs.  There are also opportunities available through the various TIGs.

Another way to network is to attend events, workshops, and conferences.  At the local level attending topical programs or skills-based workshops is one way to meet people with common interests to yours and learn something at the same time.  Professional associations often provide pre-conference workshops.  When you attend conferences, attend presentations by individuals who share your interests and talk with them afterward.  If you arrive early to a presentation, strike up a conversation with the person next to you.

HOT TIP #2: Workshops sponsored by AEA or The Evaluators’ Institute are a great way to sharpen your skills and get to know your peers.

One way to network with other evaluators is to join your local evaluation group.  If there is none in your area, then form one yourself.  It can be as simple as getting all local evaluators together at a local coffee shop or restaurant a few times a year.

Whether you work as an independent consultant, or work for a larger organization, networking is important for building your business or career.  It is worth investing the time and effort.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consultants (IC) TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC  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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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