Networking and Relationship Building

The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. Networking according to the Webster dictionary is defined as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.

The idea of networking and how it applies to employment has been a frequent topic of conversation at our office. Many of the individuals with whom we work are very interested in finding paid employment. We know that when it comes to looking for work, it isn’t always about what you know, it is about who you know. For this reason, we are very intentional about helping individuals think about the people in their community circles who may be able to connect them to job openings and help them get in the door for an interview.

We have also been thinking through how we as an agency might help to open up doors for employment opportunities. We have been asking ourselves how we may use networking and relationship building to develop connections between employers and potential employees. Recently, several members of our staff attended a meeting at ONEplace with the Kalamazoo Foundation facilitating a discussion about community alignment and relationship building. It highlighted how organizations need to communicate and work together to build a stronger community.

In the work that The Arcadia Institute does, we have the opportunity to interact with other agencies in town who are also helping people with disabilities find competitive jobs in the community based on their individual interests. While we are working toward a similar cause, our individual missions and strategies are unique. It’s like we are each a spoke on a wheel. The work that we do is different, but complementary. So, when we work together for the benefit of the individuals we serve, we build stronger outcomes for individuals and for our community.

We value the interactions we have with these organizations and we have decided that we want to be intentional about inviting these organizations to come together to have a conversation about employment in our community. Nothing fancy - just talking around a table at a local coffee shop. We want to provide an opportunity for each of us to share about the work that we do. Through this dialogue, we hope to build a better understanding of what we have in common and what is unique about the way we each approach our work. We know there are areas where we overlap in working with an individual, so we believe there is benefit to us coming together to learn more about each other.

Are you interested in participating in the conversation? Please let us know.