The Ins and Outs of Networking

Post date: Oct 14, 2012 9:49:37 PM

It’s not obvious, but “scientists in their 60s also have the same feelings,” Elizabeth Bass, director of Center for Communicating Science, coaxed the anxious but eager postdoctoral students during a networking session, prepping them to mingle with business and science professionals in a few weeks.

“Talk yourself into place beforehand to emphasize you’re looking forward to this event,” Valeri Lantz-Gefroh, workshop coordinator for the Center, added. “Focus on what you have to offer them.”


Graduate Career Association’s first networking session was as informative and hands-on as it gets. Students had to step out of their comfort zones, but some were subtly prepared to stand at the proscenium and simulate how they’d woo a faculty member for a postdoctoral position.

Both Bass and Lantz-Gefroh critiqued students on how to execute successful networking techniques. And dutifully, here we are presenting the ins-and-outs of networking:

Step 1: Positive mental reinforcement- It helps to take the focus off of you and focus on them

Step 2: Make a human connection-Opening up on a non-work related conversation can open doors. Don’t say you don’t care about that person; you have to state the opposite in your head and ask what’s valuable about being in the moment with that person.

Good questions to ask:

Do you have any hobbies? (It can be a memorable factor about yourself as a person)

Step 3: Make a science connection- Ask more questions, and keep in mind it’s really a conversation-

Well that’s interesting, tell me more

Admit something you don’t know and ask about it

Social Media-follow someone of interest on Twitter or ResearchGate, comment on their works to keep yourself on the radar screen and build relationships

Exchange thoughts on science blogs

If a PI is intimidating, do two things:

  1. Pay Attention to Body Language: How accessible are you? Make yourself approachable and don’t appear uninterested
  2. Network with People You Know: Maybe someone you know will know a PI to help you make that connection

Qualities of Good Networking:

  • No small talk because no one likes that
  • Come up with good questions by researching the person or if you have interest in field
  • Study the other person and pay attention to him or her when you’re talking. That means don’t focus your attention on “your failures.” Remember positive reinforcement-Step 1
  • Be aware of the “bad signal” when the person shows no interest. Make sure you back off

Preparing and Practicing:

  • An elevator speech should be short and crisp; it introduces yourself in two sentences and that should be the conversation starter
  • One way to prepare is by going to places you don’t know and practicing things you don’t know