Disseminate and be proud of your work [Ajay Ghambir]
The way to nurture and develop those networks is to always really take pride in your research work and your publications, and really take the time to disseminate them, send them to people that you think are interested in them. Offer to do presentations and additional discussions around them and take some pride in them and say: ”look, this is the work I've done, this is how it can be helpful, this is how it will help you”……That sort of thing just very quickly leads to further questions, offers for collaborations, joint grant proposals and so on. And it's a really good way of just rapidly growing and nurturing your network.
Always keep in touch [Maria Papathanasiou]
I started building a network, and by building a network I mean, that wherever I met, … a professor or student I was working with, or collaborator from industry, I always kept in touch….. not frequently… if there was not a certain topic, but touching base about how my life has progressed, for example with my supervisor in Germany, to seek advice.
Apply for travel grants [Sarah Rouse]
[as a Fellow] you have this travel money: you can do so much more. …. I recommend really looking into the programs that Imperial has to offer because, not just at Imperial, there are some small, any kind of small travel grant or project grants that you can apply for. They usually have quite good odds of success. And it gives you freedom to speak to other groups and work with people that way.
Engage with our media teams [Ajay Ghambir]
You can always just write to different media outlets and say, look, I've done a really interesting piece of research and we have a really, really good set of teams at Imperial College, in terms of media and dissemination people. I think each faculty or each department has media people. So just go to these people and say, “look, how can I get my research out there? I think it's really interesting, it's relevant for this person or this department or this public sphere. And what can I do?” Just ask away and don't be shy.
Be patient [Maria Papathanasiou]
The timing is always key, so it doesn't mean that you meet somebody today, and you have exchanged contact details that this collaboration has to materialize today. It may mature in two years, and that may be even better. So patience is key in all of this but putting yourself out there introducing yourself who you are, what do you do and, you know, just keeping in touch is extremely important.
Join professional associations [Angela Kedgley]
[Try] joining professional associations and volunteering within those, because it will increase your visibility within those professional networks, which may lead to collaborative opportunities later on.
My networks have really helped in terms of my career development, whether that is by joining professional associations within my research area. You never know when those people are going to call upon you to be involved in something a little bit larger, and that increases your visibility.
Use social media [Maria Papathanasiou]
I used to be a social media user for personal accounts, for example Instagram. I like Instagram. But then I realized that, for example, Twitter and LinkedIn have such a huge power in communicating your latest research results, your presentations at conferences, keeping a profile for yourself and then eventually for your group, if you end up having a group as an academic….So that's, for me, the new way people will be networking, I've been invited to conferences or to give interviews for my work through LinkedIn or Twitter….But at the same time if we go back to thinking about face to face events, which I think are invaluable, I will never replace them with anything online, maybe together they can be super powerful, but face to face has something else, a different element in it.
Take opportunities offered at Imperial [Sarah Rouse]
It was really when I started thinking about Fellowships …. When I started looking for jobs…. I'm interested in a lot of things: industry, consulting, this kind of work and thinking about start-up. And it meant that I looked for other opportunities and some of them came through the PFDC… looking for these opportunities, even within Imperial, lets you meet a whole range of other people that you would never encounter otherwise if you were just focused on your research and staying in a lab.
Introduce yourself [Maria Papathanasiou]
Even at conferences where you don't even present… let's say, when you present certain people will know about you and your work, but you may attend the conference, just for the sake of it, without the presentation. Just go introduce yourself to a speaker that you find interesting. ….don't be afraid to put yourself out there don't be afraid to introduce yourself.
Use Business Cards [Maria Papathanasiou]
Have business cards, this is something that many people at PhD or postdoc level ignore completely. We do need business cards, even at PhD level. This is where all of your details are, stored in a neat way and then you give it to the person. Maybe it will end up in something, maybe not, but at least you're prepared because it looks really bad when somebody gives you their business card and you have nothing to give in return. And that has been very handy in my case. For example, when you present the poster in a conference you're not necessarily always there, you can just leave your cards, and it has happened to me that people have emailed me back and I kept in touch and then we collaborated.
Get involved in setting up a new network [Sarah Rouse]
When I got my fellowship, actually just before that… I helped set up a mitochondrial network….the nice thing about that is that you have to keep your eye on the field and see what everyone's up to. You can invite people to talk and give talks, and it naturally leads to new conversations with people.
Ask for help [Sarah Rouse]
When I was going for the fellowship… I asked more people to help in that time than I had in my whole career before. So I think there's probably 20 people in the department who I asked to help, either with looking at my proposal or going through my slides. ….. in the end, everyone here is so happy to help you and you end up meeting people that way as well.
Share your work [Julia Stawarz]
Taking all of the opportunities you have to go to conferences or present at seminars or any of that sort of thing, even if you feel like, “oh, I don't have anything brand new to present”.
Taking all the opportunities to share your work so different groups of people can get a sense of what you're working on… that's really valuable.
Develop your own network or programme. [Sarah Rouse]
… I've also been involved with the Imperial Postdoc and Fellows and Enterprise Network. So we're really looking into translational research. And that has meant that we set up programs for the business school. Things like this has been really interesting to see what's going on from that side of things. I've learned a lot during that time.
Ask people to be your mentor [Sarah Rouse]
You can ask people to be mentors…. It's a good idea. We're very dependent on our supervisors as postdocs, or we can be. And if you make sure that you have a separate mentor, then I think that that is a good move.
Ask questions at conferences [Angela Kedgley]
I think for early career researchers, it's really important to use any opportunities that you're given. Whether that is asking a question at a conference, and sometimes that may seem difficult, but it does really increase your visibility. So think of a question or go up to the speaker at the end of their talk and say how much you enjoyed it and ask them a question then.
Use the postdoc network at Imperial [Diana Romero]
For me, the most useful network was the postdoc network.….. I was talking to many of my peers and discussing ideas, whether we know people in certain in certain areas….You ask whether someone knows someone who is working here or there. And that's usually a good way to start.
Be inquisitive [Flora Scott]
If you're if you're going to a presentation or a departmental meeting, any scenario, that you are going to be likely to meet new people, just be engaged, be inquisitive, be professional.
Follow up [Flora Scott]
If a conversation doesn't happen in real life in that moment, don't worry. You can follow up with an email or even follow up after a conversation if there’s something you said or even if it's just “great to meet you” or an offer of thanks or gratitude. I think those tiny touches can really, really go a long way. And that has been something that has aided my career development.
Careers research [Flora Scott]
Another way that I’ve used my networks is to actually get the lowdown of a prospective employer as well: reaching out to people and saying “is this a good organization to work at”? I think one was a friend of mine that works at the organization I was looking to apply, and one with someone that I actually connected with on LinkedIn to ask that question.
Contact people about their latest research [Miguel Gomez Gonzalez]
Whenever I spot a really nice piece or a paper, or I go to a conference and see a very nice study that might fit in with our research, I definitely try to contact them and try to develop a new collaboration, try to engage with them.… sometimes it’s not possible, it does not crystalize but, at the end, this one of the nice things of my job. Trying to engage with different people from different research groups.
Attend as many events as you can [Sara Budinis]
I think it's an extremely important to network. And, yes, it can be difficult and sometimes it's difficult to understand if you should prioritize an event. You know: How important is that activity for you? But especially at Imperial College, there are so many opportunities, there are so many seminars, so many webinars and lectures. And what I did myself, and what I would suggest people to do, is to attend as many events as you can.
Stand in for your supervisor [Sara Budinis]
[In] my specific case, the director of [my research group], once he couldn't attend an event and he asked me if I could replace him, and when I went there, it was a quite a high level event…. But when I went there, I met my current manager. And so that's the first time we met face to face and, at the time, I had no idea that I wanted to apply…That's clearly an example where attending an event was really useful for me, I would say.
Go to events on unrelated topics [Sara Budinis]
My approach has always been maybe counterintuitive. I tended to attend events which were not related with my topic because I was spending my whole day working on something and I wanted to know more about something new or something different and, even better, when you can, volunteer to present at those events, if there is an opportunity, because that's when you can talk to people who are interested in what you're doing. And you can receive a lot of feedback. And I think it's extremely important to not be closed, on your own, like in a nutshell, but be open and exchange with other people.
Just think of other researchers as friends [Xiaoyan Lin]
I think maybe try to think you could make friends with them because I feel like, even here in the UK, even a professor, they are very nice and very approachable. So just maybe try to talk to them as if they are your friends … try to talk about something you think might be interesting to them and interesting to you as well, and then have a conversation.