January 2019 President's Corner
The Power of Horizontal Networking
I’m sure you’ve heard the common saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And although I’m not endorsing you sliding by in classes and neglecting your academics, I think there is some truth to the power of your social network. A social network seems easy to obtain, especially for our generation who grew up on AIM and MySpace. However, the type of social networking that pays off in your career extends beyond the constraints of the World Wide Web. I’m talking about face-to-face networking. Meeting someone in person, even just once, and having a meaningful conversation is one of the most simple ways to extend your professional network. And this is something that is most frequently and easily achieved at annual professional conferences, such as the upcoming AAA 2019.
When I was a first year and attending professional conferences, I felt like to be successful with networking (and to hopefully get a job eventually), I needed to meet the professionals who wrote my textbooks, were authors of new studies, and were national leaders. As I’ve advanced in the program and become more active with the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA), I’ve realized the power of horizontal networking. Also called peer-to-peer networking, horizontal networking describes purposeful and intentional meeting with peers who are on the same “rung of the ladder” as you. This type of networking has many advantages if the idea of meeting new professionals intimidates you. Peers may better understand your point of view and experiences, making you more vulnerable or comfortable in sharing your future ambitions. For me, my peers from my class to my co-externs to my fellow volunteers with the SAA are my future coworkers, supervisors, research collaborators and leaders.
Realizing the importance of peer-to-peer networking has transformed my priority when I attend professional conferences. Although I still try to meet successful audiologists who could contribute to my future career in some capacity, I’ve tried to invest just as much time in current and future students who will also contribute in some way. Attending student programs and events at AAA and the SAA Conference are the perfect venues to practice horizontal networking: learning from your fellow peers and sharing your own experiences.
If you are able to this year, consider attending the AAA 2019 Conference in Columbus, Ohio. It is a fairly inexpensive conference for students, when compared to other conferences, and the city has reasonable accommodations. If this is not in the books or budget this year for you, consider other ways to practice horizontal networking. An easy way to do this includes volunteering for the SAA! Applications are always available on the Audiology Community.
Hope to see you in Columbus!