Hello reader. My name is Eddah Kanini, a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Gender specialist and trainer.
I want to share how joining a professional network like the EvalSDGs guidance group of the EvalPartners has contributed to my personal and professional transformative change and growth. I joined the network as a young and fairly shy person but determined to learn, be better at what I do, and most importantly, make a contribution or bring a change in society through my profession. I was surprised at the open-door policy and respect practiced by the network members.
Unfortunately, I previously had an unpleasant experience in a network that was a space of discouragement being singularly led and managed by the boss at the top, rudely shoving off any members who attempted to grow professionally, and resulting in defamation and character assassination of any member who dared be active or dreamed of moving forward in the Evaluation profession.
As a member of the EvalSDG guidance group, I quickly learned that the strength of a network is positively affected by the frequency and intensity of meetings. They are consistently conducted every second week of the month without fail and this has strengthened the relationship ties within and has led to stability in planning to attend and make a contribution. It is in these meetings that both the complex and tacit knowledge is shared and rigorous planning of activities such as the evaluation dialogues and evaluation insights notes is done. The strong ties, and frequency of interaction, have led to intense and rich communication between and across individuals.
The activities of EvalSDGs guidance group have contributed to my sense-making and I have become very adaptive to different local contexts and grown in several levels of my profession from the rudimentary to the most complex. The network motivates every member to boldly share information for others to benefit and I have become better in knowledge sharing as a lecturer, trainer, mentor and coach exercising knowledge combinations such as Evaluation, Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity, and being bold enough to create new knowledge and shared schema.
The network is a rich ground to cultivate growth and nurture skills. As an ambivert personality, the networking boosted my confidence through the roles delegated. I come to enjoy and love the public speaking skill, moderating sessions facilitating and leading group discussions. And looking back, I remember the phrase from one of my role models, the then Deputy Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University, Professor Olive Mugenda who used always reminded her students that “your network is your net worth”, and indeed, being a member of the EvalSDGs guidance group, has contributed to my professional and personal growth.
Build connections with the right people to take your evaluation career to the next level. Networking is a two-way road and there is a give and take. As I was taught by other generous professionals, it is also my obligation to teach others and be kind to people as they strive to grow professionally.
Allow your curiosity to lead the way and guide you towards your set goals. Nobody should give the negative remarks that you have no “muscle” to aim higher.
Networking can take many forms and one should feel free to move to a comfortable network that is inspiring. Networking is personal after all.