by Josh Behounek, Eastern Urban Forestry Coordinator
@treesrtheanswr & firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a good chance that if you are reading this you are being asked to do more with less and probably on a less than ideal timeframe. When I hear this methodology, I’m immediately drawn to the idea of having a strong network of colleagues that you can exchange ideas and information with.
Today’s world provides more information at our fingertips than ever before, and it is ever-expanding. The amount of available information on any given subject is simply amazing and can really empower an individual to expand his/her knowledge. While everything is a quick Google search away, these types of searches are fraught with errors and oftentimes lack personal perspective.
As professionals, it is critical that we have a strong and growing network of peers. This network can enable you to reach out for ideas and solutions but can also facilitate the lessons learned and pitfalls they’ve encountered. This is especially critical when trying to solve hard problems like species selection, budget reductions, storm response, invasive species management, etc.
Urban Foresters are some of the most talented professionals out there and we must balance the art and science of growing trees in a challenging urban environment. Unfortunately, the nature of this type of work can create information silos and it is easy to feel that you are on your own working through a challenging problem. This is where a strong and growing network of peers can step in.
One of the best ways to increase your network is to attend industry events. By attending industry conferences and events, we not only learn critical scientific research, we also have the opportunity to meet others and discuss issues with people in similar roles. While there are a number of online social media ways to build a network, I would like to challenge you to do it the old fashioned way, person-to-person. At the next conference you go to, set a goal of meeting 3 new people. Sit at a lunch table where you don’t know anyone. Talk to the person sitting next to you in the session, or say hi to a presenter or exhibitor.
If you take the time to invest, cultivate, and build your professional network, I believe you will feel more empowered and in-control the next time you have a tough problem to solve. I’ll be at the Partners In Community Forestry Conference in Tulsa and would love to add you to my network of peers.