Online Teaching Blog

Best practices, tips & tricks, and career advice—served up fresh

Online Education: It's not what you know, it's who you know.

Online Education: It's not what you know, it's who you know.

by Lee Bennett
April 15, 2016

I am reminded of the phrase “It's not what you know, it's who you know.” To a certain degree that is a true statement. Today it is all about developing networking and developing relationships. The importance of connections and relationships should not be underestimated. Generally, they will potentially land you a new adventure and help you achieve your higher education dreams. That said, I disagree with the statement on a fundamental level. I believe the statement underscores the ability on the person. It is a statement I rarely use.


To become a higher education professor, one must possess a certain level of education, training, and experience; all of which are understandable. It is this point as to why I disagree with “It's not what you know, it's who you know.” After all the sleepless nights writing papers, countless hours in your profession, and missing family activities, why would I degrade myself? As with anything, more so than not, landing the first job is a team effort. Therefore, I believe it is more precise to state, “Knowing people gets you to the door, what you know gets you in and keeps you on the other side.”

As it has been previously stated, I have submited numerous applications in hopes of landing the first interview. It is interesting to read the testimonials regarding this particular topic. The readings causes my to recall all the people that were involved during this process. In my case, Sarah Miller (introduced me to The Babb Group), Sheila Fry (wrote my CV/cover letter), Chantel Slack (provided all the custom searches). Many people have provided, in most cases, unknowingly sound advice to a person who was/is naive to the totality of circumstances. That is not to dismiss the efforts of my family and close friends who have also provided feedback.

I say all of this because I am refreshed to realize that there are still people in our society that wish to see people succeed. There are still people in our society that are willing to help an unknown person reach there goals and are genuine about it. I have yet to reach out to a person in this arena and not get a response back. I stipulate that it hasn't been in my time frame – that goes back to my being impatient – but they have responded. I also stipulate that it hasn't always been the answer I was looking for nor expected. The beauty of it is all responses are helpful. It was once said that it is easier to kick a person when they are down than it is to help them up.

Just breaking into the online professor field, I recognize that I have much to learn. I also recognize that there is wonderful support in place to assist with that learning. As I continue to submit numerous applications to universities that I did not know existed, I am overwhelmed with all of the moving parts that come with it. There is a great deal of stress involved with submitting applications, as well as frustration. Additionally, in most cases, you are submitting applications into “pools.” Sitting there awaiting an answer from a university is a kin to waiting for a teenager to clean up their room or stop using the Ipad.

Yet I continue to punish myself with anxiety, stress, and frustration. I continue down this desire path knowing that the it may get worse before it gets better. It is the excitement of getting my first interview and begining the new adventure. I have often wonder to myself, as I am sure some of you have, what it will be like to be referred to as a professor. Yes, it does have a nice ring to it!! I associate that with my sister, Kim Bennett, who has obtained her doctoral. I recall the pride and joy she possessed when that happened. I recall the excitement and joy she had when she became a professor. Now I realize that much power come much responsibility.

I, sooner rather than later I hope, will work with wonderful people from around the country or world talking about a variety of topics that will change that person or their community. Those discussions may have a profound impact on many lives. Those discussions and teachings are challenging, not only for the students, but the professors as well. Yes, with much power comes much responsibility. All of the sudden the anxiety, stress, and frustration is overcome with joy and excitement. And when that day arrives, I will have many to thank to helping me get there. Notwithstanding, I also made the sacrifice to obtain the knowledge and experience to have this wonderful opportunity. So it should be stated that it is who and what I know that presents this wonderful opportunity.

Until next time, please be safe and enjoy time with your family!!