Career Resources from the Top

Career Resources from the Top

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Networking 101 for Grad Students and Faculty

Many students, researchers, and faculty members underestimate the power of human connections in academia. Academia, especially during graduate and post-graduate studies, thrives on relationships and shared ideas. While networking doesn’t come naturally for most people, it represents a valuable skill that can be learned through a few simple tips.

Significance of Networking in the Academic World

Building relationships with people around you can benefit your academic and professional career. Students and faculty members that embrace the power of networking will experience many unique opportunities compared to those who ignore this vital skill.

  • Shoulders of Giants - Grad students need to be able to gather information, share research, and learn from other people in their chosen fields. Networking helps foster these relationships that can support the student through advice, feedback, and providing additional connections.
  • Foster Innovation - A strong network of people around you can provide a sounding board to bolster innovation and fresh ideas. These individuals can often provide insight or perspective that you might not discover otherwise.
  • Career Opportunities - According to HubSpot, approximately 85% of all jobs are filled through networking. Whether you already work in academia, are looking to get into a new program, or are ready for an internship or post-academic job, your network will be extremely valuable to accomplishing professional goals.
  • Lifelong Skills - Networking is a skill that will bring lots of value to all aspects of your life including academia, career, and personal. The sooner you learn to network and build connections effectively, the sooner you realize the benefits.

Six Tips to Networking Effectively

Despite being social creatures, most of us aren’t naturally good at networking. We tend to gravitate toward people we already know. However, the benefits of networking make it worthwhile to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The good news is that networking gets easier with practice!

  • 🎯 Set Networking Goals - Goals are a great way to stay motivated and ensure you achieve your networking objectives. For example, you might set a generic goal to network with five new people monthly. Or you could get more specific, by creating a list of professors or other leaders you want to meet within the next year.
  • 🤝 Ask for Introductions - A great way to expand your network is by asking friends, family, colleagues, and alumni to introduce you to people within their networks. People are generally more receptive to connecting with others who share their network.
  • 📈 Focus on the Value You Can Provide - The benefits of networking works both ways. It’s important to demonstrate that you aren’t simply connecting with them for selfish motivations. Consider what value you can bring to the other person as well. Once you have established a collaborative relationship, you can turn to them for support, advice, and resources. For example, start by offering to help connect them with someone in your network or send them an article or research paper that you think will benefit them.
  • 👩‍💻 Leverage Social Media - Social media is a great way to increase your network and connect with others. Sites like LinkedIn can reveal common connections and interests, and it’s also useful for discovering juicy icebreakers. For example, “I noticed you studied Biology at Northwestern University; what got you interested in that field?”.
  • ↩️ Plan Time to Follow Up - Don’t let connections in your network grow cold. You will need to work to maintain these relationships over time. Let the other person know your intentions to follow up with them by asking “I’d like to circle back on this topic next month, does that work for you?” or “I’d like to check in at the end of the semester, it would be great to read your final paper on (insert topic here)”.
  • 📝 Take Thoughtful Notes - Jotting down notes following conversations with new connections can be extremely helpful and a great way to resume the conversation later. It demonstrates that you were paying attention and took an interest in them. Remembering personal details from your chat can go a long way such as asking “how was your summer trip to Europe?” or “did you end up getting the position you were interviewing for when we last spoke?”.

Share Your Research Notes with Your Network

As you research and write papers during your studies, you’ll want to collaborate and share this information with people in your network. The experts at Petal have created an innovative platform that provides all the tools you need to collect, organize, and share your research with others. Check out Petal Connect to learn how to leverage Petal when interacting with people in your academic network.