Networking strategies for graduate students

networking during Graduate Student Research Day

During my luncheon talk about networking, I involved the group in a quick networking activity. This was my view from the stage.

Graduate Student Research Day 2017 flierNetworking was the theme of the University of Florida’s Graduate Student Research Day. Students shared their research during poster sessions, participated in a networking activity facilitated by Melissa Lyon from the Career Resource Center, and heard talks from Alex Sevilla and me about strategies for networking.

Here are some of the tips I shared in my luncheon talk, which I titled “Bite-size Advice about Networking.”

Start networking now

You don’t need to wait to attend a professional conference to start networking. Work on developing connections with faculty and colleagues in your own work setting.

Your committee members are important allies. Talk to them about your career goals and ask their advice. When you go on the job market, you will be asking them to be your references.

As a speaker, I appreciated the support provided by OGAP board members and the Graduate Student Research Day organizers, including Manasi Pradhan (on left), who handled the technology involved in my presentation, and Morgan Harding, who introduced me and made sure I received my sack lunch.

Other graduate students should be a part of your network. They can be collaborators on research projects and for class presentations. When you are applying for jobs, check where your former grad student colleagues are on faculty.

Join professional organizations

Professional organizations help you develop contacts with others in the field. Most academic organizations provide career information, publication opportunities and special interest groups to help you connect with others. Faculty in your field can suggest helpful organizations to join.

Graduate students should be making the effort to attend professional conferences. Professional conferences offer the opportunity to make a presentation related to your research or teaching, meet faculty from other institutions and, at most academic conferences, to participate in a job hub. (I’ll be writing a separate post about tips for attending an academic conference.)

Charlotte Bolch and Julie Dodd at Graduate Student Research Day

Charlotte Bolch joined me during my talk to discuss updating her LinkedIn profile. Charlotte was on the Logistics Committee for Graduate Student Research Day.

Develop your own business materials

Order business cards. If you are a graduate student or employee of an organization, check to see what the procedure is for ordering company cards. Otherwise, you can design your own cards and have them printed. Former doc student Nicki Karimipour wrote a guest blog post on creating business cards.

Create a LinkedIn profile. In a previous blog post, Charlotte Bolch, a doctoral student in and I offer tips on improving your LinkedIn profile.

Enhance your online presence by creating your own website. You can post your curriculum vitae, examples of your research, your teaching philosophy, and other teaching materials. WordPress, for example, provides a range of templates that will let you create a website.

Graduate Student Research Day was the first event in UF’s week-long Graduate Student Appreciate Week, held April 3-7, 2017. The Organization for Graduate Student Advancement and Professional Development (OGAP) planned the event.

From my own work with event planning, I know how much work was involved to recruit speakers and judges for the poster sessions, make arrangements for room set up and audio-visual needs, publicize the event, develop program materials, etc. A special thanks to Charlotte Bolch, Jennifer Wiggins, Jude Masannat, Manasi Pradhan, Morgan Harding and Samantha Sethuraman for their help with my luncheon talk.

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