A Beginner's Guide to Networking
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Everywhere you go, you continuously build your personal and professional network. In fact, one conversation today could become a career connection down the road.
Build trusting, intentional relationships in your day-to-day interactions in order to advance your career now and in the future. Here’s how:
You’re too late if you try to build a network only when you need a job. Before you need that favor, proactively build relationships by:
- Joining an organization in your area of interest for career growth and leadership opportunities.
- Joining your local SfN chapter to get to know people beyond your institution.
- Attending small meetings where limited attendance facilitates more interactions.
- Contacting someone at a local university even if they are in a different area of neuroscience.
Exchange Business Cards
No matter your level of study, make sure you have a business card. They allow people to find you easily, especially if you haven’t published yet. Remember to:
- Use a “two pocket” system: one pocket for receiving cards and one for holding your own.
- Accept cards graciously and take a moment to look at them.
- Jot down notes about your interactions after the event.
Interact with Purpose
You’re bound to meet a lot of people as you network. Stand out and leave a good impression by:
- Giving a firm handshake both in greeting and to gracefully leave a conversation. Get feedback on your handshake from close colleagues or a friend.
- Showing genuine gratitude when you receive help.
- Extending your hand to anyone — even a competitor.
- Being nice to everyone. The world is smaller than you think!
Biological and neuroscience research has changed rapidly in the last decade. Team-based science is growing tremendously, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. Practice the same networking skills you use in everyday life — such as communicating openly and honestly — to become a valued team member.
You never know which casual interaction will turn into your next big career connection. Be alert. Be open. Be kind.
Adapted from the SfN Webinar, Networking: Building Bridges to Careers Outside Academia.