Your networks are essential to your success. Here are just five compelling reasons why it is so worthwhile developing your networks.

“Networking is a lot more important that I realised. Talk both to people that can collaborate and who are the competitors.”
- Dr Florian Bouville, Senior Lecturer, Department of Materials

Networking benefits

1. Collaboration and innovation

There are very few researchers who can have a successful career without collaborating with partners from other disciplines, institutions, countries, cultures, and sectors. You only need to look at the number of authors on a typical journal article, or the themes for major funding calls to see that, as we tackle larger and more complex challenges, we need to connect with researchers in other fields who bring different skills or approaches to the problem. The boundaries of disciplines are where the exciting ideas are, and if you are pursuing an independent research career, it’s essential that you understand how your research interacts with and is seen and understood by others. You will also learn a huge amount by observing how other disciplines approach and manage their research.

“Just in terms of developing your own research programme or your own ideas, it's valuable to have a diverse set of people to bounce ideas off of and just talk about the research with. Building collaborations with people that aren't working on your exact topic is really valuable because it allows you to put together new ideas or maybe new ways of looking at the kind of work that you're doing.”
- Dr Julia Stawarz, Department of Physics

2. Realising your vision

A key strategy as a new PI will be to find your next grant or collaboration. Making the most of opportunities to raise your profile, share your ambitions, build reputation or gain skills and experience to help you to get ready and be competitive for a future collaboration or funding call.

“Your network is one of the most invaluable treasures one can have, whichever pathway you choose to follow. Literally everybody I've met in my life has been useful. From the advice they give you, to just looking at their career pathway as role models, you learn from everyone.”
- Dr Maria Papathanasiou, Department of Chemical Engineering

3. Making things work

At a very basic level, we all need contacts to help us work efficiently and navigate the system we’re operating in. It makes sense to build productive working relationships with the people who understand the complexities of a research institute and how to make it work, or where to go when you need something signed off. You might want to find someone in another group who has equipment or a resource that you would like to borrow. If you’ve been at the College for a while, you might have knowledge or connections that you can use to help other researchers find what they need. Being able to function effectively as a researcher day to day requires good local networks so you have access to professional services: people who can tell you how to complete an administrative process, apply for local funding: or help you to work out how to get access to a facility. This type of networking saves us time and frustration.

4. Building reputation and impact

Obviously the more people you interact with, the more your reputation builds and greater the chance of an invitation to speak at a conference, co-author an article, join a collaboration, support a beneficiary, disseminate to a new audience, and so on.

“For me, having a network is one of the most important, if not the most important parts of being a researcher. One of the main reasons that we do what we do is to have an impact on real world policies, on science, on improving the world. And so having a network of people that are in the government, or in corporations, or in financial firms, all of whom are incredibly interested in climate change, that's so important to me.”
- Dr Ajay Ghambir, Grantham Institute
“I've been invited to conferences or to give interviews for my work through my posts on LinkedIn and Twitter.“
- Dr Maria Papathanasiou, Department of Chemical Engineering

5. Being resilient

Having a good network or feeling part of a community is a known factor that boosts our resilience, if only to know we are not on our own. Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to talk things through with peers, or a mentor, who really understands how it feels when a paper is rejected or there is conflict in your team. They can commiserate and help you pick yourself back up and plan. Our peers help us to let off steam, they can give us useful feedback to boost our confidence, and can share their own coping skills or short cuts to navigate the world of research. They are also there to help us celebrate our minor, and major, successes, and they will be best placed to understand what those successes mean for us.


Internal resources and guidance

PFDC wellbeing resources

  • Alongside wellbeing resources and services, the College and the PFDC host a range of courses and events focusing on health and wellbeing.

What's On

  • Imperial hosts a variety of free events that you can attend. You can search for events by keywords such as 'wellbeing' and 'mental health'.

External resources and guidance

  • From mental health charities to apps and podcasts, there are many resources and services external to Imperial that provide information and advice on a wide range of wellbeing issues

Previous and next

Go back to the previous section: Networks, collaborations and visibility overview

Go to the next section: Reviewing your networks and visibility