“Networking” is the word that I am freaking out even by hearing that. As an international student, I feel that the networking here at U.S. is more important than my country because I already have my family and friend as my network there. Despite all fears and shyness, I believe it is very important skill must be leaned to make school-to-work transition smoother. Networking will connect you with people in mutually beneficial relationships who may be able to help you find your future career. Instead of spending all their time in the lab/office, graduate students must be encouraged to improve their social interactions, taking an interest in their community, and practicing networking.
All of us agree that networking is an essential skill and must be learned. But how? Where do I start? Please don’t tell me to ignore my fear and start talking and interacting with people at the conferences or workshops! I cannot. Therefore, I began researching instructions and I found some helpful tips. However, they are not enough!
- You must start with our PhD supervisor or mentor since they are more experienced and work close to your field of interest. So, they are a great place to start. Asking their advice for building your network. It is much easier to start the conversation if you can mention mutual acquaintance.
- Take advantage of all networking opportunities! Conferences are the best opportunity for academics network with each other if you are serious about a career in academia. If you have a paper, so, the others will understand what you are working on and during the breaks or meals are the best time for mingling and further discussing.
- Be prepared! If you are interested in someone’s research, then, read his works before the conference to be prepared for starting conversion. Believe they are only humans and will be excited if they see their works influenced someone even if they are eminent scholars.
- Always have your business card to yourself, it does not matter you start a conversion, or someone else starts a conversation with you. It is going to be short. Therefore, having your business card/ asking for their cards in the case you may want to discuss things further later.
- Practice conversation tips! People like individuals who are friendly and speak up more than with those remain quiet and isolated. Moreover, you must develop elevator pitch beforehand, so that you will have it prepared and practiced when you want to network.
- Attending networking workshops, career fairs and joining student societies are the simplest way to begin networking. Base on my experience, you may fell stressful and awkward, but the fear and shyness would be eliminated as you are getting involved with peers. Moreover, I think having some mandatory courses all the way from undergrad to PhD to teach and practice networking skills with students would be beneficial.
Networking is instrumental in obtaining my desired job, so it is important to work on myself. I need to do a lot more networking. I came all the way until now to have a PhD. So, I do not want to ruin my future or be unemployed. So, next time you will see at an academic conference, I will approach and introduce myself, shake your hands, have a short and fruitful conversation, and build my network before it becomes too late. Building my network takes a lot of time and energy. I do not give up even if someone won’t respond me, there is always another person who is interested in talking with me.