International Relations Team through the perspective of networking.
Throughout the first semester, the International Relations Team has provided a safe space for the team to learn how to work together and represent Proakatemia both internally and externally. The role of the International Relations Team (hereinafter referred to as IRT) has been to promote internationality within our community as well as to communicate and promote our values and structure to other groups of people such as other team academies, educational institutions and entrepreneurs. This year, the IRT’s extensive work was divided into three segments: hostings, social media and podcasts, which acted seamlessly in both internal and external communications: the podcast team included teampreneurs, alumnis and potential new partnerships into their concrete outcome, a podcast show titled the Wings of Academy while the social media team updated the community and the social media platforms with external followers. Last but not least, the team responsible for hostings held high-quality events that ranged from having workshops with our international guests to organising events for the community to join.
In Proakatemia and our IRT community, wins and positive news were shared and celebrated. For the entire team, the appreciation and possibility to show and share our internationality was a matter of honour and it was carried with pride. For me, IRT provided plenty of learnings: as an example, I learned to recognize my priorities and understand my strengths and weaknesses as a team player and an individual, which I am eternally grateful. In addition to this, I got to see my network in a very visible state and had the chance to intertwine the networks.
The term social networks refer to a model that shows how people or organisations are connected to each other on various levels. The level of connectedness varies and is referred to as a tie, which can be categorized into absent ties – no connection, weak ties – some connection and strong ties – close connection. As an example, your sister could be a strong tie with whom you speak with daily, an ex-coworker with whom you exchange pleasantries may be a weak tie while a tie with the world’s most famous golf player may be absent since you do not know share similar familiarities or any kind of connection with him. In practice, people tend to have more weak ties than strong ties, which is what helped bring my network visible in the IRT.
When talking about a network, we oftentimes forget just how powerful our networks can be. While it is of high importance to maintain strong ties, the most power can be seen in the weak ties. Weak ties usually refer to a situation, an individual or an institution that has worked with you previously, has an impression of you and most importantly, has respect for you to stay in your network and maintain the connection. Usually, this is also the matter of maintaining your networking skills and ties – great performance skills help in providing a lasting first impression, which in turn helps with the creation of the weak ties in a place where there were no ties.
This spring, the IRT hosted students from Belgium’s Artevelde School of Applied Sciences. The experience was positive for the visitors and the hosts alike, however, the ties were stronger for a bit – namely, I got to share a weak tie from my own personal network to them, which instantly strengthened our connection. At the end, I had stronger ties with both the students that received the contact as well as the contact who was glad they were of help and thus, their respect in me grew even more. Finally, I was extremely grateful and satisfied with the creation of new connections and the rekindling of the older tie. Personally, the situation left a lasting impression on me as for the first time in a long time, my network proved worthy of itself, which added my confidence into the network I have.
Thus, I would also like to share some tips with the reader.
Firstly, be courageous and explore new opportunities. Finding your interest and investing time into exploring your options will provide satisfaction in your experience and create useful networks for the future.
Secondly, maintain your networks. Regardless of the state of the connection, it is highly beneficial to remember the people that you have gathered around you. This will only work to your success as in this case, people maintain the respect for you and it is always good to have connections in different fields for unforeseen situations.
Finally, your attitude speaks a lot. Being kind and doing the smallest acts of selflessness help maintain a healthy look onto yourself and your values as well as create the connections and maintain the respect you have been given already.
Being in the International Relations Team was an incredible experience and I would sincerely recommend it to people thinking of applying or getting involved. It is a way to find new networks, explore your interests and be equipped with necessary performance, problem-solving and representation skills to take with you to the future.
Wings of Academy podcast, https://open.spotify.com/show/6FKjjucIIrpc0j0eSPxhAA
Book. Introduction to Sociology.
Soni, D. 2019. The Power of Weak Ties.
Cover photo: Private collection. Networking event, where the writer of the essay participated at a panel.