Connecting with peers locally
Your peers and colleagues within the College are a crucial network for you. Not only for social and moral support, but also as a potential source of collaborators, co supervisors and peer mentoring or observations.
It doesn’t all have to be about the research and teaching: there are College wide networks for groups with diverse needs and characteristics.
It’s far easier to connect, meet and work with people who sit within a few hundred metres from you, so start your networking local. Many very successful research collaborations have begun with chance encounters with someone in the next building or department. Don’t leave it to chance, take some action.
Here we make a few suggestions for existing networks that you can connect with as well as networks you could establish yourself.
“Getting to know the people in your department is absolutely the first thing to be doing – make appointments to see people – tell them about yourself and start to interact. It’s important to understand the organisation of each department: how does the department function? Go on a walkabout and meet technical and administrative staff. . .”
- Prof. Neil Alford, Associate Provost (Academic Planning)
For some newly appointed lecturers and PIs your Head of Department or their team may have already introduced you to new or recent starters, so that you can act as a supportive network and go through probation or establishing yourself as PIs together. If that doesn’t happen automatically in your department then ask for it to happen or establish a group yourself.
There is no need to wonder in silence where to find things, how anything works or, more importantly, how the department will support you in getting access to resources, navigating probation and so on. If you have questions or concerns, then some of the other new starters are almost guaranteed to be thinking the same. There is influence, efficiency, and safety in numbers.
Here are a just a few suggestions for quick wins or activities to connect you to your local networks (or create new ones)
- Ask the administrative team in your department for a list of new starters from the last 6 months. Email them and ask who wants to meet for a coffee. If there are very few of you, cast the net wider and join with another department or the whole faculty.
- With your cohort of newly appointed lecturers or PIs, arrange discussions or Q&As with your Head of Department, Finance, Faculty Research support teams to raise common questions or demystify anything that is confusing you.
- If you have your own research group encourage your team members to connect with their own peers in the department and do the same.
- In your cohort or with your research group you could organize the following (if you need advice or support then ask PFDC-Support and they will help you):
- Peer review circles for papers, proposals and teaching
- Near-peer mentoring
- Action learning sets or group coaching
- Mini research
- Ignite talks
- Funder Q&As (ask a programme manager to meet a group of you to discuss upcoming calls)
- Teaching observations
“One of the most important things is to engage in staff groups and meetings. Make the most of these or, if there aren’t any, start them yourself.”
- Dr Robert Hewson, Reader, Department of Aeronautics
Internal resources and guidance
- Imperial has a number of staff networks and groups that aim to encourage collaborative working, knowledge sharing, and opportunities for both development and social engagement.
- There are EDU networking and events throughout the year to provide you with regular opportunities to connect with colleagues, to share practice, and get advice in relation to learning and teaching.
External resources and guidance