Paula SingerPaula R. Singer is the Chief Networking Officer at Laureate, Inc., an organisation focused on increasing access to high-quality, affordable education in new and innovative ways. A key component of Paula’s role is to lead the Laureate Network Team and build professional working relationships with individuals and partner organisations on a global scale.

Drawing on her own career and wealth of experience, Paula shares six tips on how you can create a positive impression, grow your network of contacts and make a difference in your organisation or field of work.

  1. Reach out; who you know is as important as what you know
    Who you know helps inform what you know, and when you reach out and build relationships – a network of relationships – you learn about your business or industry from different points of view. You also gain a more complete understanding of direction, issues, best practice and challenges.
  2. Get a full view
    Having sat in many different chairs in my career, from employee to board member, I can tell you with full confidence that the view is very different from each seat. The full view is powerful, but getting a full view requires a network. The full view helps you see where the biggest challenges are, and where you as an employee can add the most value in moving your organisation forward successfully. While a wide network can help you identify potential career opportunities, developing a wider perspective gives you the opportunity to connect the dots in ways you can’t see from your cube, office or home laptop.
  3. Take the initiative; make a plan
    Think about who in your organisation you would like to meet. What departments do you need to learn about in order to have a better understanding of your organisation? Ask to meet with a person in that department. Make a 45-minute appointment.
  4. Do your homework
    Do your homework before you have your meeting. Prepare two or three questions and make the appointment about them and their area of expertise. People – particularly senior-level leaders – love to talk about their work and vision. Don’t ask for anything. Be authentic in your interest, and use these sessions as a way to become a more effective member of your organisation.
  5. Join LinkedIn
    Join LinkedIn and use it in much the same way: to meet people you can relate to and learn from. But go further: share with your LinkedIn network your areas of interest and ask them to recommend whom you should get to know. Be persistent. Be enthusiastic. Be interested in others.
  6. Be part of a professional body
    Outside of your organisation, join professional organisations and attend their conferences. Do some prep beforehand and check who’s attending. Decide whom you want to meet. Reach out and set up meetings. Everyone going to that conference wants to network. Make the time and money that you’re investing in attending that conference pay off for you personally.

My role is to lead a group of experienced Laureate leaders. This team, known as the Laureate Network Team, is tasked with executing on the unique power of the Laureate International University’s network of over 70 institutions in 25 countries in order to bring a distinct advantage to our more than one million students. We also aim to be a positive (but disruptive) force in higher education. One of the best ways to success is to take the initiative and let that initiative help uncover the right opportunities for you. And remember: you are the only one who is responsible for your career advancement – not your HR department, your manager, your company, not even your social network. Take the responsibility seriously and make it happen.

PAULA R. SINGER

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