“Go out and do it.” Presenters and panelists at a recent Biophysical Society Annual Meeting agree that networking must be self-led; you can’t simply wait for others to come to you. But how do you get started?
First steps to networking success
The first thing to bear in mind is that networking is not simply a one-word greeting. Networking is a discussion. You want to be remembered, rather than just another face handing over a business card. There are plenty of ways to kick-start professional networking in any discipline, including:
- Attending conferences, workshops, and any other relevant events.
- Present a poster or speak at a session.
- Carry with you an electronic portfolio or information on your latest project to discuss with those you meet.
- Read the PhD guide to conferences for more tips and advice.
- Creating your own meetings.
- Visit local institutions to network with faculty members or present to students or fellow researchers.
- Ask your mentor for introductions to useful contacts and like-minded individuals, and arrange to meet them for a coffee.
- Using the internet and social media.
- Create your own website or get blogging.
- Create accounts on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and connect with peers.
- Have a professional social media presence on sites such as Twitter.
- Use ORCiD to ensure that you and your research activities can be easily identified.
- Share your research to improve your visibility online.
Maintaining and developing your network
Once you have made your initial connections, the next step is to maintain your network and remain in contact.
- Send a short follow-up email after any discussion, referring to a specific question or talking point raised during your conversation.
- Try to arrange to meet people you’ve already spoken with at future events.
- Ask a connection to proof your article drafts, or for help on specific parts of your research to culture a network. Asking for advice and feedback encourages someone to invest their time in you and no one wants their investment to fail.
- Improve your interpersonal communication skills; personal conversations as well as formal presentations.
And remember: it’s never too late to get started. Nurturing a broad network of contacts can be incredibly useful whether you’re an experienced researcher or a newly published postgraduate. So, what are you waiting for?
The ideas in this post are collated from a 2017 Biophysical Society Annual Meeting session, Networking and Personal Branding: The Workshop, featuring Lisa Fauci, Jennifer Ross, and David Warshaw.