Successful networking tips for researchers

How to get started and develop your academic network

Networking can be challenging for a lot of people, often it doesn’t come naturally, and it is especially tricky to know where to start. But as a researcher it is a crucial skill to learn for advancing your career.

There are multiple benefits of learning how to network – it allows you to build relationships, learn from others, share and collaborate on research, and discover funding opportunities. In this blog post you will receive successful networking tips, including how to get started, and how to develop your network.

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Where to start with networking

There are various networking opportunities to explore, but knowing where to start can be difficult. To make it an easier decision for you we have gathered some routes for you to consider as a place to start networking in any discipline.

Attend conferences and workshops

Events such as conferences and workshops can be wonderful for networking with peers in your field. The discussions you have at events can present new perspectives to your research and even direct you for future research.

It is useful to go prepared to events and take your (online) portfolio and information on your latest projects with you. These can offer a conversation starter and lead to fruitful discussions with those you meet.

Make the most of in-person events, they offer the chance to personally get to know academics which remote events like webinars don’t offer.

See more tips on attending academic conferences.

Organize meetings

Go out of your way to schedule meetings with faculty members or fellow researchers at your local institutions. If you have a mentor, you should make the most of their connections. Ask them to introduce you to people in your field. Then, once you’re introduced, arrange to meet them for a coffee in a casual environment.

Organizing meetings and catch ups is a brilliant way to keep in touch with people that you may have met briefly before. You never know when a catch up could lead to a future project or opportunity.

Maximize social media

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Social media is an essential tool for networking in today’s academic community. If you haven’t, make sure you have created accounts on a few social media platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn are two platforms to consider. You should use your social media accounts to follow people in the research community and those you may have met at conferences. This will help you to keep up to date with what they’re up to. If you’re new or relatively new to social media, you may want to improve your skills with this blog post and podcast.

Engage with posts and achievements that are shared by members of your network. You can do this by commenting on their posts or reaching out to them privately via the messaging function. This is a wonderful way to start a conversation and build relationships with your online community.

And make sure you also post about your achievements and relevant updates to help improve your visibility online.

Developing your network

Once you have started building your network, you need to nurture those connections you have made. This will help you to keep in contact with them. It is extremely easy to drift apart from people you only meet once or twice, especially if they are people you met at a conference fleetingly. You will need to try to keep in touch with them. Let’s go through some ideas of how you can do that.

  1. When a fellow researcher publishes their work, why not send them an email praising their work. This is a wonderful way to continue discussion and show you value their contributions to the academic community.

  2. On social media, share posts of the academics that you follow. This will help them increase the reach of their posts, but also help them recognize you and develop a two-way support. 

  3. Try to arrange to meet people that you have already met at events. Suggest a quick catch up, perhaps a lunch break, coffee, or a drink at the pub. This a fantastic way to develop your interpersonal communications skills in a casual setting.

  4. Ask your connections to proof your article drafts. Or even ask for help on specific parts of your research. This helps develop the relationship you have with members of your network. Asking for advice and feedback encourages someone to invest their time in you, and no one wants their investment to fail – they truly will want to help you in a valuable way. 

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It is never too late to build your network or develop the network you already have. Maintaining a broad network of contacts can be incredibly useful as a researcher – whether you are experienced or a newly published postgraduate. It may help you secure future opportunities in your career, supply a sense of belonging, and create long lasting relationships. So, what are you waiting for… get started today. 

Where to next?

If you’ve found these tips helpful, take a look at:  

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