Networking extends beyond the powerful to the meaningful

Columnist Jeff Appelblatt is graduating. One thing he has learned is that networking is important, but he says it goes beyond just important people who can help with your profession.

Graduation Banner

I had an assignment for a business writing class to write a letter to a former teacher asking for a letter of recommendation.

My group members wanted to start by introducing themselves to the teacher.

I couldn’t disagree more.Appelblatt, Jeff

There’s no way I’d be asking a teacher or anyone else for anything if I knew he or she might not remember me.

Networking – it’s something talked about so much at college. We’re told to make connections with anyone we could possibly think of involved in our anticipated professions.

This is true. Do that. If someone in your profession is introduced to you, keep in touch with him or her.

I call former Philadelphia Inquirer business writer and one-time producer Akweli Parker a few times a year. I may call if something significant is going on in newspapers, but I usually call just to talk. He’s now my friend.

But I say it’s just important to keep teachers in your life.

There are some, like Temple journalism professor Christopher Harper, whom I owe a whole lot to for a recommendation that helped land me an internship at the Daily News.

I’ll never let him forget who I am.

I visit – or sneak – into my old high school whenever I’m home in New Jersey. Not only have teachers in the school become my friends, but it makes many of them happy to see former students.

So when I go into the school, and Ms. Cantos, my senior English teacher, tells Mr. Smith, my sophomore English and journalism teacher, how it’s so nice to have me come and visit, I feel good.

It’s not hard to do. Even if they don’t help me advance in my career, it’s not hard to take time out of my day to talk to them.

I enjoy talking to them.

Around Temple, I’m memorable for making time to recognize people who are important to Main Campus. People who likely will have nothing to do with my career.

Don’t believe me? Talk to the security guards, maintenance workers or the workers at the cafeteria and drop my name. They’ll know who you’re talking about.

During my freshmen year, there was something called “Respect Week.” Some reason that was the final year.

But whether it’s scheduled or not, there’s no reason not to add respecting the people who try to keep you safe, who keep your home clean or who feed you into your schedule.

It can be as little as saying hi – just ask Josie, a long-time maintenance worker – talking about sports – ask Victor from the caf – or as much as getting to know about some workers’ families – like Abi, a Peabody Hall maintenance worker who has a son who attends Temple; Harry, a Temple security officer who has a daughter who graduated from Temple last year; or Lisa, a caf worker who has a young son with autism.

It wasn’t hard for me to learn any of this.

Just by talking, you never know whose day you’re making better. You also never know who may somehow benefit your future.

For me, I graduate in a week, and I don’t think I can say there was anything more important in my time at Temple than those who worked around this campus.

I’ll be gone, but to those who will still be around, these people will still be here for you.

Take advantage.

Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at


  1. This was a great article. It makes so much sense, and is so true. I still keep in touch with my high school teachers, simply because I want to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.