Working at networking

Does the word “networking” bring about a negative feeling in you? Are you scared, maybe petrified, at the prospect of networking? If so, you were probably there at the session on networking over lunch. It was an extremely interactive session where the speaker, Joe Tringali, identified networking as “describing yourself”. The key, however, is to do it the right way. As he mentioned, it is not something restricted to job search… is and should be a process that goes on all the time, whether or not we realize it. And he insisted, that it could even be fun!

The session discussed the effective way of finding the right person to talk to. The one thing that was stressed the most is this: targeted, strategic networking as opposed to an opportunistic one. Here is an example. Standing at a coffee line and hoping that the guy right in front of you is the recruiter for the pharma giant you have always dreamt of joining……is an inefficient way of networking (although, if that really does happen, it is definitely a good idea to jump on to it!). My first response to this was: think Levinthal paradox. Where would we all be if proteins decided to rely on chance to get them to the correct fold?

The correct strategy is to do your homework. Start off by listing the companies you want to be hired by. Next, find out whether anyone from these companies are going to be there at the meeting (the Biophysical Society website allows you to search members by employer). Emailing them ahead of time is definitely not a bad idea. However, it should also be kept in mind that not everyone will have a equally positive response, and that it isn’t necessary to have a positive response from each and everyone you contact.

That brings us to the very next point. Contact multiple potential bosses! It is a number game, and this time it is the big numbers in your favor. In the words of the speaker, “in number there is strength”! Chances of having a job out of ten applications is clearly different from that out of a hundred!

And with all of that, it is worthwhile to remember to be realistic. Expecting to have a job by the end of the meeting is a little far-fetched. The Biophysical Society Annual Meetings provide ample networking opportunities (later in the day I met people who landed at their current jobs due to networks set up at earlier BPS meetings). However, processing of an application is a complicated and (hence) a time-consuming process.

It was an extremely enlightening session, and I hope I have been able to convey most of the message efficiently. I would sign-off here wishing everyone very good luck with their job search. Will be back tomorrow.