Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dr. Crazy on Networking

Dr. Crazy has a very interesting post about networking inspired by the MLA. It is not anything we haven't heard before, but a very thoughtful and detailed consideration of the way our profession works. The comments posted so far are also worth reading.



Blogger rachel said...

This is a really interesting post with stuff we should definitely be talking about.

One of the things that's hard, both in Dr. C's post and in the real-world application of it, is the collusion of things one needs to be in the 'in crowd.' There is the aspect she focuses on, which is the knowing what the in crowd is: knowing what's going on in your field, whose doing what, knowing there's a blogger meet-up, etc.

Then there's knowing what to do/how to comport yourself once you've gotten face time in that crowd, which is (for me) less manageable. Like, I always fight the instinct to talk about football and other totally irrelevant things because I feel like such a one dimensional imposter talking about my field. I generally feel more comfortable self-representing with non-academic chit chat. So one of the questions for me is whether it's better to be relevant and awkward or irrelevant and composed (relatively speaking).

6:59 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Thanks for posting this, Sarah. These are the things that no one tells us but that we need to know...

6:06 PM  
Blogger Michael Elliott said...

I think what's important (and this comes out more in the comments) is that it is less important to be in the "in crowd" than to try to make connections with people who are outside of your university at conferences. These can be people that you share a field with, or talk about teaching with, or just like to talk to. This is the reason, after all, we have conferences: after all, it would be a lot easier just to post the papers on line.

In other words, one thing you learn at conferences is not so much "networking" in the business sense but simply how to talk to people from across the academy -- maybe even in a way that includes both football and Foucault, shopping and Shakespeare (or in my case, basketball and Boas). As Rachel says, this isn't a natural skill -- we are all impostors -- but it is one that can be developed. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. Moreover, the more you do it, the wider the knowledge you can draw on when you are organizing conference panels or looking for help with a footnote becomes. Another way to put this, like so much in graduate school, this kind of networking is more about learning from the process than achieving an end result.

8:48 PM  
Blogger rachel said...

nice alliteration.

9:23 PM  

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