Networking 101

Networking 101 for graduate students.

People standing around a person speaking next to a screen

Photo by: Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

These are a few things that have worked for me over the years of networking during graduate school that have helped me and I thought I would share.

Why should we network?

  • Your colleagues are people who you can lean on but at the same time, you can pay it forward as well!
  • You never know what opportunities are out there if you don’t talk to people
  • A lot of jobs/opportunities aren’t posted, they are given by word of mouth

Where to begin?

  • Twitter! follow some hashtags #academia #academictwitter
  • Conferences usually have poster sessions; these are great places to network, or before/after oral sessions. There are also industry halls, where companies set up booths. I used to love networking with different companies at these as well.
  • Join societies specific to your field: they will usually have networking sessions
  • Student Clubs: your classmates are great resources as well!

How to start?

  • If starting is really hard and awkward, set a goal for yourself. If it’s an in person meeting, think about who you want to talk to. Make a list/have an idea before you go
  • It can be so nerve wracking to networking, if there isn’t a list of attendees, don’t fret! Talk to one person and ask them to recommend someone they think you should talk to.
  • Grab a friend to go with you! It’s easier in pairs.
  • If it’s virtual over twitter, interact with their posts!
  • Remember that it can be the most random person who could help you out in the future. Networking is a process that doesn’t necessarily give you results right now.
  • It’ll be hard at first but it gets easier with practice

What to do?

  • Start a conversation, ask them about themselves
  • Tell them about yourself
  • Remember that networking is as much about helping the other person as it is for you as well
  • Go with the intention of helping someone else out as well. This will make you better at networking.
  • Be kind and thank them for their time

Hope this helps!

How to network during conferences

Networking has been really scary for me. It’s hard to meet other trainees and professors during conferences. I’ve had a hard time meeting others during conferences… typically I am alone at a conference.


But I have met really great people along the way and have learned something new every time!


Here are some of the ways that I meet other people during conferences:


  1. Meet others during lunch. If you see someone at a table alone… go up and ask if you can have lunch with them. (this is how I met my current supervisor!)
  2. Go to new trainee events (some conferences have separate talks or professional meet the researcher talks just for trainees and graduate students. I love going to these especially at a larger conference because you typically get to meet a smaller group of people and make connections easier that way.)
  3. Use conference hashtags or twitter meetups. (I’m my field, Twitter has gotten a lot of traction. Conferences use hashtags and encourage everyone to connect online.)
  4. Go to the vendors (Vendors at a conference are amazing and super nice and friendly. Some of them have been previous graduate students. They not only just answer questions about the products they are selling, but they are more then happy to chat with you! I have learned about jobs and difference career paths outside of academia by speaking with vendor representatives.)


Sometimes you do meet some people who don’t want to talk to you. But most of them do and are really friendly!! Don’t give up is my best advice!

Hope this helps.