I received an email from a reader the other day about graduate school for school counseling. After answering her initial questions, I came to the last line of the email, which asked, "What is your most important advice for an aspiring school counselor?" Wow, I thought, I really need to think about that one.
I thought about it last night and now this morning sitting down to write, I realized I knew the answer all along. I thought about one of the best pieces of advice I ever received and how it has helped me as a professional school counselor and as a blogger. The advice was from my dad, and he continues to give this advice to me often.
"It's just who knows who. Then over here you have favoritism."
One of my favorite movies of all time is Raising Arizona, a Joel and Ethan Coen movie. My family watches it every year when we go on vacation. My mom, dad, and I quote the movie all the time. The quote from the movie that has the most meaning for me, however, is the line most quoted by my dad. Nicolas Cage's, character HI McDonough, states "It's just who knows who. Then over here you have favoritism." Growing up I have heard this quote over and over. The reality of the quote did not hit me until I started looking for a job.
My dad has always instilled in me the importance of making connections with people. I learned all I know about networking from my dad. I do not think he ever overtly taught me how to network, I picked it up by watching him interact with people and in business settings.
I have never attended any professional development sessions or graduate seminars on networking, probably because I have never seen them offered. There is not a method I follow or a way, per se, that I network. I prefer to use the term "connecting." I believe I am good at connecting with other people because I am genuine and approachable. I love to meet new people and discover ways to collaborate. I am also very invested in and excited about my career. Those of you who have met me can attest to that, I'm sure of it! ;)
Connections Are Everywhere
Even when I am not working, I am working. It might be a because I am a bit of a work-a-holic, but I also think it is because I am always looking for connections. For example, I was at the grocery yesterday picking up food for dinner. I was waiting at the counter for an order when I spotted a manager. I stopped him and asked him if I could have a second of his time. I went on to ask him if he would be interested in his store participating in a program we started at my school (more details to come on that later... I don't want to spoil a future post!). He was excited about the prospect and said he would talk to the store manager.
When I meet new people or I am in a new situation I often think to myself, "How can we work together or collaborate?" I highly value the relationships I make with people. I make a point to stay in contact with previous professors, colleagues from other cities, and people I have formed partnerships with along the way. I share ideas with them and they share ideas with me.
Here's My Card
If you don't have a business card, get one. I cannot stress the importance of having a business card enough. I have two business cards, one specifically for school and a professional one. I made them both using Vistaprint and was able to get the business cards for free and just pay for shipping. I also recommend carrying business cards with you at all times. You never know when you will make a new connection!
I have received lots of great advice over the years from my parents, family, friends, professors, colleagues and other professional school counselors. What advice would you give an aspiring school counselor? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!
Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.