Welcome to the spotlight on the Secrets to Success in PhD. This is a supplementary post to the previous Networking in Science article (read here) with a digital media twist.
Social media has become such an integral concept in our lives for keeping personal connections and interactions with people we know or have newly met. But what about in a professional sense, does “social media: networking apply? I thought this was quite a common occurrence but have come to realise that it is not so.
“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].”
Networking in science (or any field for that matter) is such an important aspect for success. 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. Both knowledge AND network need to be developed strongly, however, it is a shame that we are trained to mainly focus on building knowledge. I think the traditional understanding was that having great knowledge was enough, and the “If you build it, they will come" mentality. But how can you excel if you don’t receive feedback and discussion from outside sources of thought to develop your ideas/work? If we can be proactive and strengthen our networks early while as PhD students doing research, this will be an indispensable asset going forward to help our career success.
The game has changed in the way we interact with people these days, mainly due to the advent of smart phones and social media (thank you Mark Zuckerberg haha). Social media in science is a must for us as upcoming student to engage with others in our specific scientific field and the general science world and beyond. So what platforms should we be on to make efficient interactions, and not be wasting our time procrastinating from our work (I see you scrolling/refreshing that news feed, get back to work… after reading this post of course :P).
Definitely LinkedIn and Twitter, as they both allow a global interactive reach.
First LinkedIn. It is the business and employment oriented service for professional networking. Not only are you able to connect with professionals you meet, you can also follow companies on the platform and make connections with people that work there. In many cases jobs are not advertised and thus having your foot in the door can greatly help landing the position you aspire. If someone knows of you and your interest, they may keep you in mind when something comes up and engage you first.
Secondly Twitter. Twitter is a great platform to interact and keep up to date on news with scientific experts and students in your field, in a more semi-professional atmosphere. There is also a great support network to engage with other PhD students, check out @PhDForum and the hashtag #phdchat.
[Last (and least important) Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, but these would more focused on maintaining personal interactions/friendships.]
“Networking can be extremely beneficial when done well… Continue to do the work and put yourself out there, and doors you didn’t even know existed will begin to open”.
You can take it as insight, or you can take it as Just BS!
[Post inspired by the thoughts of Dr Sam Prince and Ashley Stahl]