Here’s an episode we think you’ll really like.
In this one, we talk about networking (specifically at conferences) with our guest Kristofferson Culmer, doctoral candidate in Computer Science, doughnut graduate, and networking expert.
We talked strategies for meeting and connecting with people at conferences, such as:
- Start with smaller regional conferences or more topic-specific conferences, as they tend to have a more personal feel.
- Compliment someone on their conferencing outfit – like Kristen did for a guy wearing an insanely tiny cute little backpack.
- Own your interest in someone’s research! It’s ok to be interested in their work. Sometimes you’ll find people who are much closer to the research you’re doing at a conference than you will in your own department, and they can be a resource for your work.
- Icebreakers: Have you been to this conference before? How are you doing? What got you interested in the topic of the conference/your paper?
- If you really want to make a connection, send a follow up email after the conference.
- Get on LinkedIn. Zach isn’t, and Kristen hasn’t touched her’s in years, but Kristofferson recommends it.
- Rachel compares it to first date protocols. It’s ok to be nervous.
- Kristen says go and stay. Don’t just go to the conference for your own presentation, stay for the whole time and see other presentations, go to section-specific events or social events even if you don’t have to.
- Networking helps you make really good connections that can help you find a job, collaborate on research, or just make friends from all over the region/country/world.
- If your school hosts its own local conference, that’s also a great place to meet people in other disciplines and learn about developments in other fields that might relate in some way back to your research. It’s also a great place to refine your “elevator speech” for discussing your research with laypersons.
- Be ok with being uncomfortable. It will go away over time, at least some. But there’s no way to get better at networking than to just do it.
- Give and receive graciously business cards. At international conferences, be aware that there are different cultural practices for this.
- Firms handshakes and eye contact when meeting someone are important.
- Be like Rachel (learned it from our previous guest Hallie Thompson) and learn how to hold a wine glass and plate in one hand:
Conferences have many benefits and functions for the academic. Make sure you go, you push yourself to meet people, and be yourself!