Making Connections

Making Connections

TNGIC is all about making connections and networking….  Right? “But I hate networking.” The term networking gets a bad rap and I think most of the time people are turned off when they hear it. I certainly have a prejudged perception of an event or meeting when I hear the term. I have visions of forced participation and ice breaker conversations.  Huzzah.  


 When I graduated from UT Knoxville all my educators (and my parents) touched on the importance of networking.  “You need to develop a good network” or “The most important thing in landing a job is networking!”  I did not know how it could really benefit me, and frankly did not care one bit.  In short, I worked for a family friend after graduation, traveled a bunch then wanted to enter the geospatial realm. I did some internet searching, submitted resumes and luckily landed an entry level analyst position. I worked hard, moved up, took advantage of opportunities, but then found myself wanting something else.  I desired a job change, but I didn’t know of anything outside of my current workplace. What can I do to develop a…  *shudder* ….network?



TNGIC allowed me to see who works in the geospatial realm and find out more about what they do.  Where could I fit? At this point, I had figured out that networking is not always forced participation and ice breaker conversations.  I found, with the help of the TNGIC community, that building relationships with people is all about communication and being involved.  Just having a conversation with a new person.  Sharing some stories.  Listening.  Helping.

I am still learning that people communicate in different ways, could be more extroverted/introverted, or may just not want to communicate.  I always try to keep this in mind when I attend a conference, give a training, or help a fellow citizen. I digress, but the point is that communication, whatever the form, is key to building these ever-important relationships.

I found TNGIC has a great community of people that are willing to help, willing to share, and willing to communicate.  I realized the power of being able to make some friends and the connections they could provide. I have found many benefits in establishing a network. I found a job with the help of TNGIC. I have helped friends find jobs through my network. I have also had opportunities presented to me, helped people connect, and learned a ton.

So, what now?  Keep the networking train going of course.  The benefits I have discussed have kept me coming back for more.  Staying involved has allowed my network to grow, helped me in my current role, and has provided me with a great group of people to work with(and get help from) all across the state. 

Some tips to keep your network healthy and growing:

Keep a personal list of contacts. At the very least keep who, title, what organization, and their email.

Stay in touch.  Go to conferences, forums, and meetings.  Message folks using TNGIC’s new member community!

Get involved.  Give presentations, go to training, or volunteer to help

Looking back, I wish I had been involved as a student or in my early career.  It would have helped me grow immensely. It’s all about communication and how much effort you put in. I have discussed the benefits I have found and expect many of you have found the same.  Push yourself to have a conversation at the upcoming fall regionals, make a post on the new forum, ask a coworker to get involved, volunteer, or just spread the good word of GIS technology.  Doing these things sure helps me enjoy what I do.  I also hope this ramble helps you think about the connections you have made, all the great work you have put into it, and pushes you to keep the awesome TNGIC community alive.

Now for building the network outside of the geospatial realm… 

If I have not met you I hope I do in the near future!

Paul Dudley





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