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Higher Education Networking during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Higher education networking is very important for several reasons. Networking can assist educators with career growth, create collaborative research opportunities and help educators develop new, innovative approaches to educate students. Networking for higher education professionals can also lead to calls for papers, new adjunct teaching opportunities, and opportunities to speak as a visiting professor or as a guest at an event.

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Higher education professionals typically network through academic conferences and other trade conferences that bring together a wide group of individuals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most academic conferences have either been canceled over the past year or have been moved to an online format.

While academic research can still be shared through virtual conferences, the inability to network in person can have an adverse impact on higher education networking. As a result, higher education professionals must find other ways to keep growing their professional networks during the current pandemic.

Utilizing Current Colleagues for Higher Education Networking

One of the first steps that can be taken to develop your network is to develop networking opportunities through your current connections. For example, colleagues are a great resource to collaborate with and to help expand each other’s networks. For instance, consider reaching out to coworkers and colleagues and ask them to introduce you to other people with similar research or career interests.

Having a colleague introduce you to someone new in their professional network can in turn expand your own network. Requesting a colleague to set up and participate in a Zoom call where they introduce you to someone new is also a great way to break the ice and connect with others.

Using this strategy has been a big help for me during the pandemic. Several months ago, I set out on a project to propose new state legislation designed to increase the legal protections for the underage victims of sex trafficking.

Prior to providing the proposed legislation to the State Senator who agreed to sponsor the bill, I needed a legal review and assistance in compiling the legislation. I reached out to my supervisor and through his network, a Zoom call was set up with two members of the university’s Legal Studies Department. From the introduction to these new contacts, the legislation was created and this networking was instrumental in building the proposed legislation.

Social Media Is Also Useful for Higher Education Networking

One of the most helpful ways that I have found during the pandemic to continue growing my professional network is through social media. LinkedIn has been especially helpful in building my professional network during the COVID-19 pandemic.

LinkedIn is especially helpful because unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn is geared toward working professionals. I have found that people on LinkedIn are more willing to accept connections by people they don’t know if they have a similar career background or career interests.

However, it is important to develop a LinkedIn profile that is comprehensive and includes all of your relevant work experience. In addition, I found that developing a substantial amount of colleague recommendations and getting others to endorse the skills listed on my profile has been helpful in developing a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, which is a feature offered on a free LinkedIn account. To help others gain a deeper understanding of your work, you should also list your projects, publications and awards on your profile.

To develop a substantial number of connections, I have found it useful to post relevant articles in my industry that I have written on LinkedIn or to share articles from other colleagues. This tactic often results in someone reading the article on LinkedIn and then asking to connect with me.

Once connected, my colleagues are now easily able to locate future content that I post and these contacts often reach out to me to discuss collaboration on future projects. Through networking that begun with LinkedIn, I have been a guest of INTERPOL and the National Police in Colombia, and it has helped me get my foot in the door in major international speaking events.

The coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges for higher education professionals grow their network. However, these obstacles can be overcome by reaching out to others and using social media. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor in the School of Security and Global Studies at APU. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.

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