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The Power of @WomenEd Networking

The Power of @WomenEd Networking

By Nasima Riazat   @NSRiazat

'Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher' Oprah Winfrey

When I set up my @NSRiazat account on Twitter in 2009, at the time it was still a social media platform which was still forming with few people using it.

I can remember the very early days of watching and interacting with the @WomenEd page and #WomenEd hashtag while it still just a national group and seeing the initial discussions about what this exciting new network for women in education should be about. Over the years, the network grew big enough to set up individual regional and international branches and has now became a registered Charity, from these initial foundations. One of the key things that was a priority at the time was how to bring together educational professionals into the Twittersphere, to widen our professional and personal community networks to support each other as and when needed. Indeed, this still remains to be the case as the @WomenEd network has grown beyond expectations to include women, diverse groups and male allies.

When we take the time to really think deeply about who we surround ourselves with on a day-by-day basis, our networks usually consist of the people we come across regularly face to face or know on some personal level. Their energies, positivity and enthusiasm (or not, as the case may be!) rub off on to us and we start to act and think, in the main, like the people we surround ourselves with.

When I think about some my own networks in the early days, they weren't always the most positive, beneficial or supportive. Over the years I started thinking more carefully about who I was spending time with and the benefits of curating a more meaningful network. This meant making the most of every opportunity (face to face and online) to surround myself with people I could build connections with to develop both professionally, academically and personally. It also gave me an opportunity to share my skills and knowledge, which I have readily done so with people in the #WomenEd community. Networking is not just taking but sharing, giving back to others and supporting where you can.

Choosing and carefully curating the right network that works for you individually has many benefits, so what does this look like and how do we go about curating our network?


When the people you surround yourself with set themselves high goals and the sky is the limit, over time you align and gradually start to think in this way too and your confidence and self-esteem increases. I would not have completed my academic studies or career goals without a network who was always there in the background with 'who says you can't!', 'tomorrow is another day', 'have you tried…', 'time to stop for a break and refocus'. Try to have one or two trusted people in your network to call upon for support when the going gets tough.

New ideas and Perspectives

Strong networks provide us with opportunities to hear and explore new ways of thinking about issues, how to overcome perceived barriers, exploring personal anxieties and sometimes just looking at things differently. Often people in my network can 'see' what I can't see, which may hold the solution to the issue, or use their experience to guide and mentor. A strong diverse network can be an absolute gold mine of new information, if we're open to looking for it. There are many people in the #WomenEd community who are more than willing to give their time, share their experience and years of expertise to help others on their journey. Join the #WomenEd hashtag threads and regional/national @WomenEd Twitter pages to explore further.

Build your Community

Look at adding people to your network who may be able to support you with your own personal goals. For me this meant actively networking at face-to-face events and keeping in touch with people afterwards to mutually share and develop knowledge and skills. A strong network is a great asset, a great starting point to building your personal network is attending #WomenEd events and being open to the idea of meeting new people from different backgrounds, experiences and teaching phases to network with long after the event has concluded. If you feel nervous about attending an event, please don't be, you will always find a warm welcome and be surrounded by an endless amount of positivity.

Strengthen your Personal Connections

Attend in person and online events where possible, ask people you know for suggestions of people to connect with. A lot of people in my network have been people who others have suggested or have introduced to me over time, or people I have come across at various events or online sessions willing to share. Lots of opportunities have opened up, both in my career and academic life, which would not have happened without these connections outside of my own setting. A key philosophy of @WomenEd is 'paying it forward' and 'lifting others', so I often signpost and try to link up as many people from my own network with others to illuminate opportunities for them where possible. Don't be nervous of taking that first step to build a connection.

Long lasting friendships

A strong trusted network can often lead to long lasting friendships outside of your normal circle, as you find people with common interests. A good network is not just for the short term, although you will naturally add and curate your network over time as you meet new people through new opportunities.

Supporting your career

If you're looking for your first role, or moving on to your next role in education, a great network can be the informal source of careers advice, help with applications, interview tips, CVs and just sharing knowledge of possible future opportunities to help your career move in the direction you want.

So, thinking ahead, consider your own network as it currently stands.

Who would you like to add to it?

Have you approached them or made contact?

Where are the possible gaps?

Who in your circle can share ideas, thoughts and inspiration that you might not have considered?

Tap into your regional @WomenEd Community on Twitter and try to attend events to find a whole new network of people who can open up a whole host of doors of opportunity.

Consider your own skills, experiences and opportunities that you can offer others to help support them with networking.

Share away… and allow others to connect with you via @WomenEd and the #WomenEd hashtag.

'Networking is not just about connecting people, it's about connecting people with people, people with ideas and people with opportunities' Michele Jennae

I look forward to connecting with you at future @WomenEd and @WomenEdNW events in 2023.

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Monday, 27 March 2023

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