Scientific Sessions never fails to bring forth a variety of opportunities for those who attend – The latest on what’s hot in the cardiovascular realm of research. Details on changes to healthy heart parameters. New tools for more efficient cardiovascular research. And let us not forget, networking opportunities!
In the scientific community, we all hold terminal degrees and are considered experts in our respective field; thus, it is not always about what you know but more about who you know. Networking opens the door to opportunity for numerous people and is as simple as sharing your enthusiasm for science to a stranger. Gone are the days of hammering in the lab alone day and night cranking out single authored paper after single authored paper. Welcome to the new age of team science and who knows, this stranger could be the collaborator you have been longing for. However, on the spectrum of outgoingness, those of us in academia tend to fall more on the introverted side and find it slightly intimidating to make new connections. You do not want to be the person who opened his/her mouth and almost said something. Almost. But instead, watched in a state of paralysis wondering how life might have been if you had fought the urge and instead spoken up. (Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner) Lucky for us, Scientific Sessions helps to fix the phobia of making new connections by providing different opportunities for its attendees solely dedicated to networking. One example of this was the Early Career Speed Mentoring and Networking Session offered at this year’s meeting. However, if you were unable to attend one of the many networking sessions, let it be one of your resolutions to step out of your comfort zone and actively participate next year.
In the meantime, here are a few tips that I have searched and think are helpful when approaching an intimidating networking situation:
Arrive on time. Sometimes if you arrive late than groups have already been formed. As a result, it will be more difficult to jump into conversations. It may be scary to be the first one there but it will be more beneficial in the long run.
Ask easy questions. Get the conversation started! However, make sure to include the other person in and not monopolize the conversation
Share Your Passion. People can tell when you are genuinely excited about something. Use your inherent drive for your research to win this new person over!
Smile. This one is easy, the more inviting and authentic you appear the more people will want to talk to you and the less forced the conversation will be.
Research attendees and come prepared with question. While this may seem like extra work that you do not want to do. Being prepared with questions can make the conversation run seamlessly and appear less forced and more authentic.
Bring a friend. It can sometime be awkward to talk yourself up, but by bringing a wingman, you now have the someone to help talk up your accomplishments without coming off as boastful. Having a friend also helps to ease the discomfort associated with talking to new people.
Don’t forget to follow-up. You have done all of this hard work to make great new connections so do not let the conversation end here. Make sure to exchange contact information to be able to keep in touch.
Are there any additional tips that you can think of?
Council, Forbes Communications. “10 Networking Tips To Help You Make A Great First Impression At An Event.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Apr. 2018,
DeBaise, Colleen. “7 Tips for Networking.” Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, 3 May 2012,
Joubert, Shayna. “The Importance of Networking in Science.” Northeastern University Graduate Program , 9 Aug. 2018,
Jacqueline Leachman is a student-scientist working diligently to complete her doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky, “Go Cats”! Her interests include nutritional implications in the developmental origins of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and health disparities. @JackieLeachman