Reach Out

Have you ever felt the urge to shrink into the floor when someone mentions the word “networking”? I have. But networking is in my new job description, and I’m super excited about that! Here’s why.

When I think of networking, I see strangers wearing business dress trying to look sophisticated while holding a plate of cheese. Entering a room full of people that you don’t know with the goal to “make connections” can be unnatural and intimidating.

On the other hand, clear purpose and passion for your message lends you courage to approach strangers and ask questions about their work. This opens a door, discovering ways individuals and organizations can connect for mutual benefit. Business cards are exchanged. Follow-up emails are sent. Partnerships are forged.

Another name for this kind of networking on behalf of your organization? Outreach. That’s my job at the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch®. I introduce people from all walks of life and cultures to emergency dispatch.

Preliminary results from a study on attitudes and barriers toward calling 911 in Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) revealed that many community members are afraid that they will get themselves or others in trouble if they call. Overdoses go unreported for fear of law enforcement. Medical help is delayed because people assume that calling 911 will result in an expensive ambulance ride that they can’t afford. Incidents that happen in a public place go unreported because bystanders assume that someone else has made the 911 call.

Over the past year, I have been attending a wide range of events in Salt Lake City and spreading the good word of emergency dispatch. When to call. Why to call. What to expect when you do call. From running an educational booth at the local refugee farmers market, to joining the mayor’s community health committee, to presenting at the United Nations Civil Society Conference, there is no shortage of venues to educate the public.

I’m not alone in this outreach. The recently organized IAED Outreach Committee has representatives from around the world. Our goal is to create an outreach toolkit for agencies to use when pursuing programs in government advocacy, public education, and public relations. If you or your agency want to get involved, reach out by emailing jenny.hurst@emergencydispatch.org. We can exchange contact information—no cheese cubes or dress attire required.


About the Author:

Combining her passion for travel and international development, Jenny has worked at nonprofits around the world. From participating in peace-building efforts in Northern Uganda to working toward the nonproliferation of chemical weapons in The Hague and closing student achievement gaps in the Bronx, Jenny loves learning about and communicating across cultures. Her current role is Community Outreach Coordinator at the IAED™.

About the Author: Combining her passion for travel and international development, Jenny has worked at nonprofits around the world. From participating in peace-building efforts in Northern Uganda to working toward the nonproliferation of chemical weapons in The Hague and closing student achievement gaps in the Bronx, Jenny loves learning about and communicating across cultures. Her current role is Community Outreach Coordinator at the IAED™.

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