Historians As Networkers?

Through The Way of Improvement Leads Home I came across this great article from Uncommonplace Book about Historians as networkers.  While many view historians as boring, monotone people, historians hold valuable skills needed to interact with people.  Believe it or not, historians are lively people (need proof?  sit in on a Dr. John Fea class at Messiah College or watch Chris Berman on ESPN).  Anywho here is part of the article.


 I enjoyed meeting Jen and hearing about her transition experience. She taught me a lot about how to network and convinced me that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask people for help. After all, the worst that can happen is that the person says “no.” However, that outcome seems unlikely. The people Jen has contacted have been eager and excited to help.

My conversation with Jen also helped me to realize that historians are well positioned to network; we possess all of the skills needed to reach out and connect with other people. Historians know how to research and we like to interact with people. Okay, so most of the people we interact with are long since dead, but we seek them out anyway in the papers and works they left behind. We seek them out because we want them to help us answer questions we have about the topics, periods, people, thoughts, and cultures we study. We receive their help when we read, interrogate, and contextualize the papers and possessions they left behind. This one-sided engagement allows us to better understand and connect with our historical people. Networking with the living is not so dissimilar.

The best interactions take place when you find another person who shares something in common with you. Jen conducts research before she initiates contact. When she reaches out to someone she leads with what they share in common: an alma mater, an advanced degree, interests, an experience. After establishing this common ground, Jen asks for help. Historians study people and know that most people will respond favorably to requests for assistance when they feel connected to them. Moreover, historians are capable of making the most out of each networking opportunity because we know how to ask questions of our sources.

Networking will play an important role in my quest to turn my passion for history, research, and writing into a career that pays. I am grateful for the wisdom Jen imparted and I look forward to following and learning from her career journey at From Life to PhD.

Do you possess helpful networking wisdom or have you had a networking experience that you would like to share? Do you use or know of other skills that historians possess that we can use to find or further our careers? Please share comment or send me a tweet.

Read the rest of the article here!

Thanks to The Way of Improvement Leads Home for showing publicizing this post from Uncommonplace Book!



Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Some Simple Rants On History, The Ways Historians Think, Thoughts from Other Historians

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