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It's all (mostly all) about networking

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What IS networking?

Postby D. John » Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:46 am

I define "networking" as doing anything short of stalking to put yourself in the face of those who could provide the edge needed to blow past the competition. I'm not really getting this whole low-key, shy demeanor sentiment expressed by some posters. Part of any good Ph.D., and certainly post-doc, training is independence; the ability to step out and take control of the task at hand. Yes, hard skills are definitely a plus when it comes to securing an industry position, but think of it this way----how many others also have many/most of those skills you proudly list in that '"skills" section of your cv? You must set yourself apart from the competition. This means finding a way to become more than just another name on a piece of paper....it's really not a complicated matter at all. If you're clueless about how to stand out to get your foot in the door, it will be an even more uphill battle to convince the hiring manager that you are the person for the job if/when you're lucky enough to get an interview.
It's critical for young scientists to get out of the "if they would only give me an interview, I could convince them that I'm the right person for the job" attitude. It's important to realize that the path to securing employment comes down to jumping in front of the competition right out of the starting gate. You must learn to market yourself.

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It's all (mostly all) about networking

Postby Todd Graham » Tue Mar 14, 2006 9:32 am

To answer Garth's question, I think you kind of mentioned the answer in your anecdote. I think the key is that most people who study science are mostly about science. Networking is more a business thing, and most scientists aren't natural business types. Add into that equation the fact that a disproportionate number of scientists got into this line of work because it was a way around networking. That's why you hear a lot of people in this line of work say something to the effect of "my skills should be enough to get a job." That is because they (and to be honest I) thought that these skills were so valuable that they'd sell themselves.

I think the key for people in this line of work is to realize that it is, at the end of the day, a business, and one needs to act like it's such.
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What IS networking?

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:23 am

Conversations at conferences and phone calls to Dave's "peer plus two" cohort are an important part of networking, but they don't define "networking". All you are trying to do is cultivate a set of people who know your name and have a good impression of you. Anything you can do to get your name in front of these people in a positive way will help. For example, you might write them expressing interest in a paper they've published - maybe you have some questions about the implications of their work or some ideas of how it might affect yours. Or maybe you/your lab is thinking about working in a similar area and you thought they could warn you of 'traps' you might want to watch out for. Or maybe you know of work that they don't cite that might be pertinent to their efforts. All you need is a quick email or snail-mail letter. (And while you don't want to over-do it with constant contacts, you also don't want to make this a one-time event either.)
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What IS networking?

Postby Rob » Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:49 am

I think, from what Chad said, and from what I am experiencing now, is that I really don't know how to FIND the people to contact. I'll contact whomever might help, but the issue is how can I find these peer plus two people that might be of any service?

I've been looking around this board for awhile, but I can't really tell who's who just from usernames/etc. I've even tried to connect to 1-2 people using LinkedIn and didnt seem to work (as in, people didn't even get back to me). Contacts made in HR at career fairs don't seem to respond to emails, which is expected. Maybe this is because I really am trying to find a position in industry and delaying on getting a postdoc (which I could get immediately I believe...but I really, REALLY want to work in industry now if at ALL possible).

Any suggestions on this would be great...as I feel I'm hitting a brick wall.
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What IS networking?

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:52 am

Chad1 mentioned that he's a chemist, so I'll use that field as an example. The principles are applicable across different fields, though - all you need to do is identify the appropriate society.

For chemists, the ACS publishes a membership directory. You might need to go to the library to find a copy, or check with the department office. (If you're a member of the ACS, it might even be available to you on-line.) This directory contains several indexes, one of which is an "Affiliation" index (i.e. members are listed under the organization that they work for). Identify companies in the industry you're interested in, go to that company's entry in the affilliation index, and take note of the people listed there. When you look up those people, you'll usually find out their highest degree and their job title. These should give you a list of people you can start out with.

There's also looking up publications with industrial authors. I believe Chem Abstracts also uses an affiliation index.
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for bob and chad: What IS networking?

Postby Melanie » Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:11 pm


in between experiments, for a month-- i made it a practice to "meet" one new person a day via email. there's always way to dig up new names. try pubmed'ing company name and your area of research interest. try googling "your city" and "biotechs" and come up with a list of biotech companies, go to their website, and you can get some emails and/or names. also important: for every person you actually get a response from--get two more names from them. ask their advice on if they know anyone else that can give you more info about what you're looking for.

and golden piece of advice: never do it with the premise of asking for a job. you need to ask "their advice" about "their job", "their transition", their "career path", their "feeling about the future of the industry." once you develop a relationship with them (maybe an email or two every month for about 3-6 months), you can give them a follow up email updating them that you are on the job market now and how tha'ts going.

chances are, if they know anyone that's hiring and you've convinced them you are nice and good scientist during the "relationship-building" correspondence--they'll pass your CV on for you.
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for bob and chad: What IS networking?

Postby Rob » Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:02 pm

Melanie, thank you and one question. You say you went to company websites - were you contacting high level people? The reason I ask is I'm having issues finding regular 'scientists' and similar non-executive contact information on almost any website whatsoever. Just curious, because I didnt think executives or management would be completely amenable this type of contact.
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for bob and chad: What IS networking?

Postby Melanie » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:20 pm


Hi Bob,

For the smaller biotechs, I emailed top level people--like CSOs and founders. I got a list from this website http://www.newjerseylifescience.com/ and found a similar one for the PA area. I just went to each companies website and tried to find out names and emails. Some companies list the emails. Others you can figure out by googling or other creative methods once you have a name.

For the bigger pharma companies, I emailed anyone I could find from pubmed or other methods (like I am interested in cancer, so I went to cancer conferences like AACR and able to dig up some names there). They tended to be PhD level scientists, and they would put me in contact with higher level people like VPs after I had a few convos with them.

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