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How to Network | Academic Conference Edition

Networking is one of the most sought-after skills in our day and age. For researchers and academicians, it could be the difference between good and bad research, advice, guidance, feedback, and more.

Learn why you should network (and start doing so early in your career), and learn four tips to network better. In the end, see how Orvium makes networking fun.

Why Should You Network?

Networking is crucial in the academic world, especially for postgraduates and early-career researchers. As a researcher, you contribute to knowledge-building in more ways than one. You’re doing any or all of the following:

  • Building on the work of others
  • Conducting literature searches
  • Reading a fair amount of books and journal articles
  • Disseminating your own findings and research.

Therefore, if your research is interesting, other researchers and academicians will want to know more about it. Publishing an article or presenting at a conference are great places to start, but they may not be enough. Since many articles don’t have high citations or levels of readership, you must promote your research and encourage people to engage with it yourself.

Furthermore, you may need collaborations for experiments or manuscript peer reviewers, or you may be looking for a job in your field. Demonstrating that you can connect with other like-minded individuals and build a network of contacts can help you fill any academic or research gaps you may have and improve your employment prospects.

Additionally, the academic and scientific communities are riddled with mental health challenges, challenges that could be overcome more easily if researchers and academicians realized that they are not alone in their journeys. Networking and interacting with others can help you get out into the world more and remain grounded in reality.

Let’s see how you can network better with the four tips below.

4 Strategies that Help Researchers to Network Better

1. Joining an Association, Organization, or Program

Joining an association, an organization, a workshop, or a master class is one of the easiest ways to meet fellow researchers and academicians who share the same interests as you. They’re also great opportunities to present and get feedback on your research. However, do your homework to determine where you’d be the best fit from a personal, professional, and budgetary perspective.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do they connect you with skilled job seekers and top companies?
  • Do they support networking and camaraderie across multiple disciplines or in a field of your choice?
  • Do they offer training and personal development opportunities?
  • Do they have reasonable fees or discounts for early-stage researchers or Ph.D. students?
  • Do they host, endorse, encourage, or sponsor various conferences, webinars, e-trainings, courses, etc.?
  • Do they offer publication support?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, it’s time to consider getting involved! Once you sign up, actively participate and take up opportunities to get involved (attend conferences, events, webinars, etc.).

To help get you started, check out the following options:

  • AVS (Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing)
  • PSA (Political Studies Association)
  • UACES (University Association for Contemporary European Studies)
  • CLMA (Clinical Laboratory Management Association).

2. Presenting at a Conference

There are many reasons academic conferences are valuable for researchers; networking is one of them. They’re also a chance to enhance your presentation skills (if you decide to present your paper), they give you a chance to communicate your research in a meaningful way to receive valuable feedback, and they make it easier to connect with experts in your field and other colleagues and researchers from different institutions or geographical areas.

If presenting at a conference seems like something out of your comfort zone, attend without presenting to get a feel for an event of that sort.

3. Interacting with People You Don’t Already Know

Interacting with people you don’t already know is crucial, especially at conferences, events, symposiums, etc. Don’t feel overwhelmed, though; you can’t talk to everyone at an event. Therefore, establish a game plan beforehand (i.e., what you want to get out of attending). Are you looking to:

  • Meet more researchers in your field to add to your “reach-out” list or form deeper connections?
  • Do you want to get feedback on your paper?
  • Are you hoping an interaction will lead to your next job offer?

The answer to these questions may determine which people you interact with and which panels you attend at a conference. Ensure you’re planning out your time at an event to avoid missing important opportunities.

Some additional tips to keep in mind for events:

  • Research the attendees - take the time to research your fellow colleagues, presenters, or other researchers to find their specializations, expertise, or field experience. You may even find their publications or reviews. Remember not to be intimidated by the experts in your field.
  • Reach out to people you want to meet - on social media or through email. Introduce yourself and your field, and express your excitement to meet them at the event. Chances are, they’ll be extremely flattered, and you’ll have a common discussion point when you meet in person.
  • Create a schedule to network throughout the night - set appointments with people you want to meet (if you can), but don’t overbook yourself. Remember that you can’t be in two places at the same time.
  • Listen to others and ask meaningful questions - presentation, communication, and good listening skills are all things every person should have. Remember to maintain eye contact and be receptive to what other people say.

4. Developing a Social Media Presence

Networking can go beyond academic circles, especially in scenarios where academic and scientific research must reach a broader audience, be useful, and impact our communities and the world. Consider using social media as an additional tool to help you network better. Twitter is an effective tool to communicate topics in science and otherwise, contributing to information and knowledge sharing that reaches a broader audience. TikTok is also amassing quite the science following, thanks to young researchers like Malik and Miles George.

Whichever social media community you decide to be a part of, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be active (post often and with intention)
  • Have something interesting to say (be creative, funny, original, or all three)
  • Be yourself (because why would you want to be like anyone else?).

Orvium Makes Networking Fun

Networking is a wonderful opportunity to get to know other like-minded individuals, receive feedback on your research or findings, learn something new, work on your mental well-being, and perfect your soft skills. Remember to thank those who took the time to have a conversation, share their expertise, or share their contact information with you.

The most important thing you must remember is to have fun! If you’re not enjoying yourself, those around you will be able to tell, and you may not get anything beneficial out of networking. Orvium makes it easy and fun for researchers, publishers, and reviewers to network, set up communities, and increase their interactions, all on an open platform.

Want to know more? Check out our platform or follow us on Twitter.