Working the Net

Recently, I had the opportunity to serve on the planning committee for Vanderbilt University’s Career Opportunities in the Biomedical and Biological Sciences Symposium. It was our job to invite different speakers, coordinate how the sessions were going to run and other housekeeping things. The planning director made sure that a diverse group of speakers were represented.

We had many goals as a group but I personally wanted to make the most of this opportunity and expand my network. There are countless books about how to go about doing it but here is are reflections on what I learned that day.

When it comes to networking, for now I adopt these steps:

1|  Prepare

2|  Relax

3|  Keep it going

Prepare – Job-search Guru, Don Asher’s shares this advice: Don’t contact someone without knowing a little bit about them (CV, publications, alma mater etc.) This makes the correspondence more personable and can help you stand out in their mind. Since I was already was on the planning committee I had some information and prior contact.

Relax – People are just people. Chances are you have something in common: college, both of you like the food, whatever. Keep in mind that sometimes they have bad days (one speaker had a flat tire). When in a pinch remember that the most interesting subject in the world to that person is what? Themselves! Think of some a few questions and go from there. Now that you have what you’re going to say, Relax and go for it.

Keep it going – There were actually a few lectures that gave some great tips about networking. 
One of the points that came out was timing and keeping in touch.
While I made it a point to talk to several of the invited speakers I also connected with them via Linkedin after the symposium. I included a personalized note: 
“Thank you so much for coming, hope your stay went well” –and a reference to a specific thing that we talked about.

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