Networking leads to greater job satisfaction, growth and productivity, broadened knowledge, strengthened social and professional support, added career confidence, augmented role autonomy and often, job opportunities. Here are some practical steps to get you started!
1. Use social media. Create your profile on LinkedIn and join the Canadian Association of Research Administrators group. Start or participate in discussions and connect with other group members whose skills and achievements interest you.
Search LinkedIn for people you already know in your field and connect to them. You can usually see their connections and ask for introductions.
When you interact with new people in your field promptly check if they are on LinkedIn and connect. This extra step gives added depth to your relationship and will help you learn more about the person’s interests and activities and help your relationship grow.
Create a Twitter account and follow your professional association and fellow research administrators. You can tweet your latest publication, acceptance of a poster in a symposium, an upcoming speech, the launch of a new initiative or a conference registration. Reading your counterparts tweets can not only inspire your own goals but keep you in the loop about webinars, publishing opportunities, jobs and secondment opportunities.
2. Acknowledge others’ value. Recognize someone’s achievements by nominating her for an award. Highlight his skills by suggesting him as a speaker for a webinar, conference or inviting him to be part of a project or discussion group. Many people feel underappreciated and gratitude and attention from a peer is always welcome and will strengthen your bond. Say thank you with an email, card, telephone call or gift when someone is doing a great job, written a helpful article or blog or has helped you out.
3. Find a mentor or two. A mentor is a valuable asset who can introduce and promote you to others, provide you guidance on career opportunities, skill development and other career advice, provide encouragement and review your résumé for you. As well as a mentor in your specific field, consider seeking mentors outside your area of expertise who can advise on your professional path and see your skills from a different perspective. CARA has a mentorship program for all members and we encourage you to take advantage of it.
4. Be a mentor. Similarly, providing guidance and serving as a role model to a colleague in your field can be an excellent way to develop your own skills as a leader. By being sincerely interested and committed to someone else’s growth, you can gain confidence in your own abilities.
5. Volunteer in your professional associations! If you are a member of a professional organization, you probably have diverse opportunities to volunteer – probably more than you are even aware of! CARA has many volunteer opportunities and always welcomes member engagement. From newsletters to moderating webinars, there are countless ways you can contribute while meeting with others and building your résumé. Volunteering is a great way to be appreciated and gather future references.
Like most things, networking gets easier with practice and setting and achieving small goals like those on this list will lift you into a wider, friendly world with greater professional opportunities.
This blog is derived from the fourth edition of Steer Your Career: A Research Administrator’s Manual to Mapping Success by Sarah Lampson and Katie Porter.
To learn more about networking, register for Purposeful Networking a free CARA webinar led by Robyn Roscoe on April 17, 2020.