The science of networking
Is there a science to smooth talking? A magic networking formula that will help you overcome your fear of talking to new people?
We know that great science requires collaboration, but the first step of initiating a conversation is often the hardest. We asked pro networkers George Feast, SME Program Manager, and Zoe Piper, Data61 Partnerships, for some tips to increase your confidence and help you get the most out of networking with your peers.
Top tips for networking at events
Introduce yourself and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers
- Don’t be afraid to barge into a conversation and say hello. If you are worried, look for other people standing on their own. They are definitely in the same boat as you
- Set yourself a small goal, such as introduce yourself to three people. And who knows, once you’ve done this, you might find yourself on a roll
Meet a variety of people
- Try not to stay with the same people for too long. You might feel rude doing this, so think of an excuse, e.g. to get a drink or some more food
- Maintain eye contact and use appropriate body language to show that you are interested in the conversation – even if the person is a bit dull
- Make sure you always have some with you. Pop some into your phone cover as back-up.
Ask open-ended questions related to the event.
Instead of ‘How are you going?’ try:
- What did you think of the last talk?
- What did you learn from the presenter?
- What brings you here today?
This gives the person the opportunity to talk about their current field of work, or their interest in the event. It’s more likely to trigger follow up questions.
If the conversation becomes more jovial, go with it, ‘I’m staying near the gardens, what’s your favourite place to get coffee?’
And remember, don’t ask anything too personal. Avoid questions about someone’s family/partner/kids – it will undoubtedly lead to awkwardness.
What’s the best way to follow up new contacts?
- Always add new contacts on LinkedIn (and keep your profile up to date). While you’re at it, brush up on your LinkedIn tips
- Keep a pile of new business cards on your desk as a reminder to follow up with an email
- If you made any commitments to send a report or make an introduction, make sure you follow through as soon as possible
- Look for opportunities to add value to the contacts you made (and hopefully they will do the same in return)
Expert Connect: There is a science to networking
Expert Connect is our networking platform for you to collaborate with researchers.
Need to collaborate but don’t know how to go about it? Did you know we have an in-house networking tool, Expert Connect, which connects industry with research expertise?
This publicly searchable database has more than 50,000 expert profiles from over 220 research organisations. Anyone can search for a topic using simple, non-scientific language and find the most relevant researchers to connect with.
How to get the most out of the platform
Zoe gave us some tips to boost where you appear in the search results (remember, it’s not just academic merit, but industry experience).
- Verify your profile: This takes less than five minutes and indicates your interest in connecting with industry
- Update your ORCID profile: If you only maintain one profile, make it this one. It provides a unique identifier which links to your outputs and isn’t lost when you change organisations
- Update your author profile and write regularly on The Conversation
Check out Expert Connect and update your researcher profile now.