The more people you know, the better off you are as a community.
That’s the premise behind the UGA Staff Networking Program, and the goal is to provide UGA staff members a chance to collaborate with colleagues, share information and ultimately support each other.
“We’re such a large community, but we know so few people, and this is a way to expand your campus network,” said Anjali Dougherty, associate director of the Internal Auditing Division and chair of the programming committee. “It’s an opportunity for people to connect with other people.”
Dougherty said the idea for the program began as a way to overcome two hurdles: fear of networking and lack of opportunity. People are often intimidated to attempt networking on their own, and this program provides a loosely structured way to get to know other staff members. It also provides a regularly-scheduled chance to get together with a variety of staff members.
The program, which was piloted from January 2018 through June 2018, will run twice a year—September through February and March through August. The committee assigns participants to a group, and committee members check in with their assigned groups and are available as a resource for participants throughout the session. All participants are introduced to the program at a kick-off event and have the opportunity to interact again at a midpoint social.
For the rest of the session, they meet regularly in their groups. That can be gathering for coffee or lunch or even, as one group did, meeting at each other’s office to get a better sense of different jobs at the university. The committee provides resources such as sample agendas or suggestions on where to meet or what activities to do.
“You might have a lot of thoughts in your head about where you need to go or what you need to do professionally, but rarely do we have time to sit down and discuss it or bounce ideas off other people,” Dougherty said. “What I think this group will do is provide that opportunity.”
Applications for the next session are open through Aug. 15. To apply, visit https://bit.ly/307aCR1. It is a Staff Council program that is supported by the Office of the President and Human Resources’ Training & Development department.
“In meeting new people, you find out more about the university and more about what resources are out there,” said Marie Mize, the Law Library’s circulation manager and president of UGA’s Staff Council.
That information, in turn, helps make staff members more efficient because they know where to turn to find answers to their questions. And that’s just one of the benefits of the program, according to Mize and Dougherty. Networking can also help staff members build confidence, create a support system and stretch beyond their comfort zone.
“It builds a camaraderie,” Mize said. “You get what you want out of it, and you’re able to direct your own journey.”