Building your network today will help you in the future. To see the powerpoint version of Dr. Teresa Evans’ talk on “Creating an Impact: Networking and Small Talk 101 For Scientists,” click here.
Why should you build your network?
We all need several individuals to serve as mentors in our lives. In the business world, this is called a “Board of Directors.” Think about each person you meet as part of a puzzle to helping you advance professionally.
How do you maintain your network?
1) Thank you notes—I love writing thank you notes because it’s a nice gesture and it will help you be memorable
2) Schedule Follow Up Meetings—You don’t want to just call on someone when you need them. Be sure to check in with your mentors just to stay in touch.
3) Keep Your LinkedIn Updated—LinkedIn is a great way for you to find mentors especially those that are not local. By keeping your LinkedIn updated, you help people find you based on your current interests and goals.
How do you build your network?
1) Get Out Of Lab—If you don’t leave lab, you won’t have the opportunity to meet people outside of lab.
2) Be Strategic—Be strategic about your time outside of lab. You have projects to do in lab. You can’t go to every single networking event but if you see that there is a speaker that may be a potential mentor for you, then make an effort to go and introduce yourself.
3) Master the Art of Small talk—to do this you have to communicate self-confidence and there are several ways to do this. Communicating self-confidence doesn’t mean you have to feel confident all the time just know how to appear confident. In this way, you can “fake it until you become it.”
Nine tips to communicate self confidence
1) Speak Loudly, Slowly and Clearly Enough To Be Heard and Understood—networking meetings can be loud, you don’t want to yell but be sure to be loud enough so the person you are talking to doesn’t have to struggle to hear you.
2) Smile—Smiling helps you look relaxed and communicates warmth and sincerity. It also helps people loosen up. Have you ever noticed that when you smile, the person you are talking to smiles back. Smiling is contagious.
3) Make eye contact—Research states that the optimal amount of time to make contact is three seconds because too much time or too little time can be perceived as having less confidence. The best plan is to give the person the same amount of eye contact you are getting from them.
4) Stand up straight—Posture is very important. Stand up straight, shoulders back, head up, weight evenly distributed on feet to appear confident.
5) If you are seated—Sit up straight, keep hands on the table and feet firmly on the ground.
6) Listen to the other person’s introduction and comments—Listen so that you can respond back or ask a question with the information they just gave.
7) Focus on the person you’re introducing yourself to. Focusing will help you be prepared to continue the conversation.
8) Shake Hands—shake hands firmly while making eye contact and smiling. Give what you are given. If you are given a light handshake, give a light handshake.
9) Don’t give or take business cards in a mad dash—Ask people first. May I have your business card or you can say Dr. Smith, I’ve just run out of business cards, may I have yours to follow up.