Welcome to the spotlight on PhD realities. This post is inspired by a recent discussion I had with Marie regarding the merits of networking for scientists. Funnily enough, we actually met at a biotechnology party/network event last year (haha).
As students, we usually prefer to work away on our specific projects and stay around our other academics in a similar field. However, in the current information/technological age, just doing great research is not enough. Few aspects of science can be done alone, therefore our network is critical for success. Whether we’re looking to collaborate, generate new ideas or find a job post PhD, who you know is as important as what you know.
"It doesn’t how much you know, it doesn’t matter how much intellect you have within your mind, if you don’t have great communication skills you have no bridge to be able to deliver that value. And the stronger your communication skills, the bigger and stronger your bridge, the more value you can provide.”
Networking can initially feel awkward (I don’t know what to say/I can’t provide any value back) and is often overlooked as a business/soft skill, but it is actually an essential skill for success in science. The more you practice and meet different people (from other field scientists, industry, business/management) the more comfortable it gets to strike up a conversation and generate connection. Get to know each other to find mutual information/interests where you can give value back. [Don’t forget to get connected with them on email/LinkedIn to keep the interaction going and build the relationship!]
"You need people around you who want to support you, either can or want to put effort to find information for you and help you along with your goals.” People more accomplished (in other areas) are often willing to help you, but they have to know and like you. Once you have connected and built a value relationship, you can then ask for assistance and leverage their network/connections to find help to accomplish your goal, whether that is for your research work or your career.
“I think there’s just such an abundance of people who can help you. We live in a scarcity concept where we feel like there’s only one person in the world who can help you achieve your dream, there’s probably 10 of them and they are probably sitting in this cafe right now.”
Having a PhD and being well networked will greatly enhance your career opportunities. As Jack Ma said, “No matter what one does, regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success in itself.” Best of luck with your project and happy networking :)
You can take it as insight, or you can take it as Just BS!
[Post inspired by the thoughts of Vinh Giang, Daniel Brunoli and Dr Sam Prince]