Networking is about making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial relationships. It can be a powerful tool, introducing you to a world of new contacts and new opportunities. Breaking outside your comfort zone may seem a frightening prospect so here are just five of the benefits and five top tips. You can also read two case studies in the section below.
Five benefits of networking:
You may find new directions for your research
Knowing people outside of your school/department may help you to build up your profile and to progress in your career
It could lead to a cross- or interdisciplinary collaboration
If you're new to Nottingham, it's a great way to meet people
Five top tips for successful networking:
Hook yourself into a number of networks
- different people have different information, e.g. join a University network, a faculty network and an international network
Be aware that every time you talk to someone, you are potentially networking. Make a conscious effort to listen to them and note down any useful information they offer you
"If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours..." - if you go out of your way to help contacts in your network, they'll be more motivated to assist when you need a favour
Try and strike a balance between generating results and publishing papers, and coming up with brilliant innovative ideas - use the contacts you have met through your networks to discuss and develop these ideas - you never know where it might lead!
Make sure you have a web presence for professional use - create a personal space in the University's Workspace
If you don't currently belong to any networks, check out the list on the Networks page
Below are two case studies, which detail the networking experiences of two researchers at the University.
Case study 1 – support with a fellowship proposal
I was preparing an interdisciplinary fellowship proposal and wasn’t entirely confident about the less familiar biological applications I was trying to weave into my project proposal. I mentioned this to a well-networked friend of mine and he suggested a researcher in Biology who was an expert in the area I was struggling with. My new contact then offered to read over the proposal – the suggestions he made really strengthened it. [Jenny]
Case study 2 – project collaboration
A colleague of mine in Molecular Medical Sciences knew a researcher in Physics simply because their children went to the same school. One day, whilst waiting for the children to emerge from the classroom, they found themselves discussing work. The Physics researcher commented that he was trying to find a Virologist to assist him on a project. My colleague approached me and asked if I would be interested. This led to a project collaboration and more recently, a joint PhD student. [Alex]