Galaxy IV: Networking, Professional Development & Leadership

Sonja Koukel, Ph.D. (NM), Vice President for Professional Development

What are some of the reasons you have for attending the NEAFCS Annual Sessions and Galaxy? To list a few:

  • To meet new professionals
  • To connect with friends and colleagues
  • To discover new and interesting programs

Professional conferences offer members opportunities to network. But, while handing out business cards at social/professional functions is one way to network, it’s not necessarily the only method.

Networking is defined as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest” ( Kevin Eikenberry, author of Remarkable Leadership (2007), states that networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships that help everyone reach their goals more quickly and easily.

As a NEAFCS member, how can you network to help others reach their goals? Consider providing an oral presentation for Concurrent Sessions or a poster presentation for the Showcase of Excellence. What information, ideas, programs or research can you provide that would help other professionals meet their goals? If you fail to submit a proposal thinking that the chances of acceptance are low, consider these results from the 2012 Annual Session:

  • 67% of the submissions for the Concurrent Sessions were accepted
  • 96% of the submissions for the Showcase of Excellence were accepted  

You can see from these results, that the odds of your proposal being accepted are very good!

For Galaxy IV, think of programs that cross disciplines and program areas. These may include technology, housing, emergency preparedness, and youth programs. What’s nice about Galaxy is that you have an opportunity to experience and share with professionals outside your program areas. Networking with these professionals may prove beneficial when you are planning research or programs that involve collaborations and partnerships.

Networking effectively is a form of leadership. Sharing your expertise through oral presentations or poster sessions benefits you as it enhances your personal professional development. Yet this is not a one-way street. When you share information and expertise, you are providing a service that helps in the professional development of others. 

You are encouraged to make plans to attend the Galaxy IV Conference themed: Bridging the Centuries: A New Era for Extension. Participate not only for your own professional development, but as a means to enhance the development for all our NEAFCS members. Go to the JCEP website, to submit your proposal. Then, join your fellow NEAFCS members to celebrate the diversity of the Extension System. Save the dates: September 16-20, 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA.

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