Re-Building Your Higher Education Network: The Trials and Tribulations of a Student Affairs Professional Navigating New Lands

Moving to the Midwest after a lifetime on the West coast was perhaps the most exciting and risky decision I have ever made.  I was leaving the personal and professional networks I worked so diligently to establish (and happily maintained).  One year after relocating to this new and different land and securing a higher education position, I can share some strategies that facilitated the process of re-building my network and aided in securing a university position:

Stay Engaged.  Build your network holistically by tending to both your community and professional identity.  Engage in community issues by volunteering with local nonprofits, neighborhood initiatives, and participate in community events.  Stay engaged professionally by connecting with professional organizations, committees, and conferences. Facilitating workshops will help to establish yourself locally, often leading to colleagues coming to you for consultation.  Exchange business or networking cards with colleagues and follow-up via email or LinkedIn within the next couple of days.  Keep your ears open for current and future college and university positions and follow up on these leads.

Leverage Social Media. Build your LinkedIn profile by starting discussions, sharing relevant articles, or starting a professional group unique to your functional area to build a specialized community.  Join groups and connect with institutions' LinkedIn profiles.

Tap Into Your Existing Network.  Access your local alumni chapters and tap into your networks for contact referrals in your new location.

It's challenging re-establishing yourself in a new and distant land, but it takes time, persistence, and the willingness to put yourself out there and build relationships.  I'm sending you positivity and courage from the Midwest.

Sabrina "Saby" Labor is an innovative higher education professional in the Twin Cities, specializing in college access, student success, and diversity education.

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