In the life science industry, your network can help build your career. Your connections can help you find a new job, find investors, find the right employees or set up collaborations and partnerships to grow your business or strengthen your research. Whether you are looking to stay in academia, work in a startup or move into a big company, one of the biggest assets you bring with you is your network.
Networking can help you transition out of an academic job into an industry job. Deepti Wilkinson, who transitioned from being a postdoc to working as a Scientist at Janssen, told LSN that networking, “really helped me in my job search because the more people you know, the greater the chance that you will actually get your CV to a hiring manager or a recruiter. My networking efforts helped me to get acquainted with recruiters at Janssen and they really rooted for me when positions opened up and that is how I ended up working at Janssen.”
When we asked Jennifer Schneider, once a molecular biologist, now Principal at Tiber Creek Partners, about networking, she stressed the importance of looking ahead. “You never know who someone knows or where they are going to be in a few years,” she said.
Networking doesn’t have to mean attending large events where you don’t know anyone. Diane Klotz, Director, Office of Education, Training and International Services at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute got her first non-academic job from the connections she made by being part of institutional committees.”I wouldn’t have had any of my jobs if it weren’t for my network. By getting involved in committees, you are networking by default,” she said.
If you want to stay in academia, networking will also help you to eventually have your own lab. Louis Lapierre, Assistant Professor at Brown University, told LSN that he got his tenure track position by, “showing that I could get independent grants and having a strong network of collaborators. Undoubtedly, individuals on faculty search committees take into account the applicant’s network, because the network that one possesses can also help members of a department to expand their own network and build collaborations. I would argue that an important way to survive in academic science is to collaborate and work with other scientists.”
Anthony Cammarato, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins had a similar experience. He stressed the importance of “going to meetings, making yourself visible” if you are looking for a tenure track position.
Successful startup CEOs also use their network to find founding partners, outsource experiments or get introductions to the right investors. Braykion co-founders Jon Wilensky and Ryan Ruehl met while doing an MBA, found common interests and complimentary skills and decided to start a company together.
Kevin Chen, CEO of Crop Enhancement raised over $8 million in funding by “an old fashioned door-to-door approach. It was all about getting introduced to as many different investors as possible and to different types of investors – angels and VCs.”
Jason Poulos, CEO of Librede entered the Tech Coast Angels’ Quick Pitch competition “to build my network and make people aware of us.”
It’s never too early to start growing your network. Here are some tips on how to become a power networker.