Monthly Archives: February 2013

10 Networking Tips for Academics Who Hate Networking

A conversation with someone I went to grad school with inspired this post. S/he made a comment that s/he didn’t want to network at our upcoming disciplinary conference. Rather, s/he wanted to spend time with people she felt comfortable with. I actually don’t think the two sentiments are contrary to one another. For me, part of networking involves finding people that I mesh with personally and academically. There has been talk of networking in the academic blogosphere: Reassigned Time and Ferule and Fescue have great posts encouraging people to network. The Professor is In has great advice for working the conference. You can also find networking and academic PR advice here, here, and here.  I’m sure other blogs have great advice as well. I wanted to throw in my two cents as a young academic just starting out.

  1. Just presenting at the conference and being in the conference program can help you meet other academics interested in your area of study. I got my first invitation to publish in an edited volume (I know some people frown upon this) from the organizer of the volume viewing my entry and asking if I could submit something.
  2. Present on panels at conferences, and particularly on panels with new people or people not affiliated with your institution. When my friend told me that s/he didn’t want to “network” at the conference, I told her that s/he was already doing that by being on a panel. I think my friend needed to revise their idea of networking to go beyond schmoozing at the society receptions to include the actual panel presentations. (Although I personally like schmoozing at the bar too)
  3. Go to workshops at conferences.
  4. Go to association meetings and receptions. You never know who you’ll run into.
  5. If people show interest in your paper follow up. When people ask me for my paper, I send it to them. (I do consider the possibility of plagiarizing so I generally wait until the paper is under review somewhere if I’m going to send it to a stranger)
  6. If you are concerned about networking, maybe setting the bar low would help. Plan to meet one new person after attending a conference or workshop.
  7. If you are a grad student consider graduate student paper competitions. I have entered some and I used to consider their only benefit to come from winning them. However, now I think about them as creating networks by getting my research “out there” and read by people not on my dissertation committee and sometimes by people not in my direct area. Even if you don’t win someone else, probably not at your institution, have looked at your work.
  8. Go to lunch with speakers that come to your university if possible.
  9. Ask questions of people at conference panels and after it’s over go up and introduce yourself and follow up.
  10. Have a website, page, twitter, or some internet presence. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled someone to find out more about their research and they seem to have left no digital mark. Also, many of my academic friends on facebook promote their talks and recent publications through that venue. It’s funny to me because they generally preface their post with an apology for their shameless self promotion, but then they always include the link to their latest article. (I really don’t think they’re sorry, and they really shouldn’t be) I’ve had a couple friends announce on facebook when their publications have been accepted for publication and I think that might be borderline shameless. But I do like to see the articles when they come out. (See here for further thoughts on academic PR and shameless self promotion)

Since I listed 10 suggestions in the heading I won’t go beyond that number. I’m still trying to figure out how to enter into that elusive circuit of invited talks and lectures at different institutions. I’ve given one talk and attended one workshop at other schools, but I don’t have any invitations on the horizon. I write and think about my networks not being as robust as they could be, but I offer these suggestions and invite others for those of us hoping to improve them.


Dreams of My Advisor

My advisor and I don’t have the best relationship, but it’s not the worst either. Toward the end of my years in grad school s/he basically checked out. S/he wouldn’t read anything until about two weeks before my defense and s/he didn’t give me any advice about the job market. Towards the end of grad school I saw the differential treatment between me and hir other students through conversations I would have with these other students whose committees s/he chaired. Anyway, I don’t look back fondly on working with my advisor and really I’m happy to be free from hir. So you can imagine my surprise about having a dream with hir in it last night. I dreamt that we were in a car and I was in the back seat. I’m not sure if s/he was driving or who was driving. We were talking and I said that I missed having my meeting with hir at the beginning of the semester. But I was only saying that because I thought it would be a nice thing to say, not because I meant it. Then, hir eyes got a little teary and s/he hugged me and then I got out of the car.

If I was on television or a character in a novel maybe that would signal the closure of a relationship that dominates my current thoughts and that almost infuriates me when it comes to mind. I really wish it was closure because I’m pretty sure that I spend way more time thinking about hir then s/he does thinking about me. I should just take the cue from my dream and get over it. However, at the moment I need to email my advisor for a letter of recommendation for a program, so clearly my interactions with hir continue. Part of me fears that this dream signals not the closure of the tense part of our interactions, but foresees a continuation of my acquiescence to hir shenanigans in order to make hir feel better.

3 things

  • I have been reminded once again that my academic network is not robust. I just read that someone I know will be on the editorial board of a journal that a family member of theirs is the editor. Additionally, a new, edited issue of a journal came out with someone I know publishing an article somewhat similar to an article I have written. I could have been in that issue had I known the person editing it and been more sufficiently connected to that network.
  • I am going to complain about money again. I have a plan to get out of debt, but that will take extreme discipline and some deprivation (two things I don’t do well with when it comes to fiscal matters).
  • I would really like to take an international trip but I just cannot swing it and I probably won’t be able to until next year. Sigh!

Solution: Basically I need to get my fiscal house in order so that I can travel and pursue the kinds of extra-academic activities that excite me. That way, I can hopefully also stop fretting about the shortcomings in my academic life and focus more on developing my non-academic life.