Networking made easy: Top 10 tips for the smart and savvy researcher
Effective networking is an essential skill for a researcher today. Given the niche study areas, researchers tend to form close-knit cliques and breaking into these can be quite difficult. While your work and your research credibility will eventually speak for you, it may take a while for you to gain recognition through your published papers and citations if you do not grow your network. In this article, we discuss why networking is important and introduce you to top 10 tips for networking effectively (especially in times like these where everything is virtual).
Why do researchers need to network?
There are various reasons that researchers need to broaden their network. Some of these are as follows:
- To find research collaborators: Networking allows you to establish connections with other researchers, both within and outside your field of expertise, which can facilitate potential collaborations on high-impact research projects.
- To learn: By creating a network of researchers across the globe, you get the chance to talk to people and learn more about ongoing work in your field. This can help you with your research or spur new ideas that can have far-reaching impact.
- To stay up-to-date on job openings and/or funding opportunities: Broadening your research network will also allow you to keep tabs on potential job openings and funding opportunities outside your immediate circle of influence.
- To communicate your science: Networking effectively gives you the chance to discuss your own research projects with others and allows you to get feedback and understand first-hand how people are reacting to your work.
- To meet journal editors: Being part of a larger network of global researchers also gives you the opportunity to connect with journal editors, who may find your research work suitable for their journal.
Now that we’ve established the importance of networking for researchers, especially now when a pandemic is raging across the world, let’s take a look at the top 10 networking tips that are relevant for researchers worldwide.
Top 10 networking tips for researchers
1. Attend virtual conferences: With the recent onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing everything to a halt, most events have moved online, including academic conferences. While virtual conferences may lack the regular face-to-face interactions, they have some amazing advantages such as being accessible, cost-effective and convenient to attend, and offer great scope for remote high-level networking.
2. Write blog posts and updates on social media: Your blog can be a great tool for project collaboration, or a guide on your field of research; use if effectively and you’ll find there are several benefits to blogging and staying active on social networking sites. Pro tip: If you’re attending a virtual conference, make time to connect with other attendees on the social networks available through the conference, use the event hashtag to initiate conversations, stay up to date, and forge some long-lasting professional relationships.
3. Conduct online surveys/polls: Tapping your professional network is a great way to gather key insights or opinions on a research piece, project or idea, and can help you make the right decisions in your work. In fact, asking and providing feedback through online surveys and polls not only gets you relevant and informed views, it helps to spark conversations and build connections within your network.
4. Share your research with the world: In order for any research to deliver impact, it needs to be shared. The more people who know about your work, the more likely it is to be recognized, cited, and used as a base for new discoveries. In fact, sharing your work with a group of like-minded researchers in and beyond your network also helps to initiate a feedback loop, where others can comment on and suggest ways to further your research.
5. Join academic associations or learned societies: Becoming a member of a researcher group is an ideal way to find others in your field. Most of these groups and societies organize regular conferences, encourage discussions on new research, and offer ready guidance and support to members with regards to training, publishing and funding. Pro tip: Do your research before you choose a society to join, and once you do ensure you are an active participant and involved in as many events as possible.
6. Create an online presence: Whether it is ResearchGate, Mendeley or even Twitter, being active and visible on the right platforms and social media groups can help you connect with like-minded researchers. Use these to start a discussion, get answers to research-related queries, and reach a wider audience – all of which will help you build your standing and reputation within the researcher community.
7. Share other people’s work: Research is collaborative, it is important to recognize and share important articles and updates on projects to not only stay updated, but also establish yourself as an expert in your field. What’s more, when you share others’ work with insights and helpful comments, they are likely to respond and even reciprocate by further sharing your work with their network.
8. Take up workshops and masterclasses: This is another easy way to connect with researchers across the globe. What’s more, these interactive sessions also offer you the opportunity to get your questions answered, present and receive feedback on your work, and bond with peers. Pro tip: Workshops can be intense and time-consuming, so be sure before you decide to sign up.
9. Reach out after the first meeting: The best way to turn an acquaintance into a professional ally is to stay in touch. If you want to extend your network to include potential collaborators or those who you look up to, then reach out through email or, if you’re comfortable, choose an informal chat over a Zoom call.
10. Share/review useful resources: When you come across an interesting service or tool, or resources that can help other authors streamline their research and get published faster, make an effort to share a review and encourage others to use it. Sharing new resources and explaining how it has helped you can not only build your reputation as a proactive expert, but also establishes you as a problem solver for those who need help.
Useful guidelines when you share/review tools and services with peers
Always be honest: When you are asked for advice on a particular tool or service, it is important to be honest and true to what you have experienced. Overselling or underplaying tools and services will eventually backfire and could affect how you are perceived by others.
Personalize your feedback: One of the easiest things for researchers to do is to offer a generic comment or feedback, especially when they’re pressed for time. However, your views are important and showcase your knowledge about the product or service, so personalize your feedback by adding points on what you liked, what you thought could be improved, or the kind of impact it had on your work as a researcher.
Encourage others to use it: If you’ve benefited from using a professional service, then go out and encourage your colleagues and peers to explore this. Not only will you be seen as someone in the know, it will establish you as an experienced thought-leader within your network.
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Many, if not all, networking relationships are fostered through personal referrals. Whether it is meeting and working with scientists or putting scholars, juniors and colleagues in touch with trusted professional services, researchers must consider the importance of building networks and the power of recommendations in fueling the growth of science. Ready to help your colleagues publish successfully? Spread the word, or now. Want more details, write in to to find out how the referrals program works.
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