Networking for Professional Growth

Do you ever wonder how some people become a leader in their profession or how they became an industry influencer over someone else?? We all start out being beginners at something. What happens along that career journey that causes some to stand out and others to observe from the sidelines?

These questions may be answered in many ways but let’s explore just one…networking. Here’s a term thrown around a lot but what does it really mean? One definition describes it as, “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”.  So just talking to another CTE professional is not necessarily networking…or is it? A key piece of this definition is “productive relationships”.

When we build relationships with other CTE professionals we build a network of professional resources.  These resources contain experts, mentors, potential employers, speakers, advocates, lobbyists, and so much more.  How we perceive these resources, utilize the resources, and share the power contained within is what can make the difference.

The first step is finding and building your network. Well, how do I do that when I’m sitting in a classroom teaching or an office working all day?? You start by making the decision to go beyond your current circle of influence. Find ways to become involved in your local CTE organization. Maybe you start small and create connections within your district, then your state, and eventually the region or at the national level.

Attend conferences, meetings, or workshops. Many can be done online or in-person. Find a place where you are learning and growing as a professional. Introduce yourself, start conversations, and ask questions that bring about common goals.  Soon those conversations turn to relationships that become your network of resources.

Next, grow your knowledge of CTE and find ways to share it. Build upon what you know and become an expert on your topic of comfort. Be a presenter…in your building, district, state, or national venue. Write blogs, articles, or a book…create with the knowledge you have grown into what others can use as a resource…become a part of someone else’s network of resources.

The perfect place to start your journey is by joining your professional organization, whether it’s your state’s association of career and technology education or the national office of ACTE. The journey to greater awareness and professional networking can begin with aligning to your professional association.


Wendy Perry

Administration Division Experienced Fellow