As founder of a biotech networking event in the Philadelphia area, Philly BioBreak, I’m often asked about how to effectively and efficiently network to both advance your career as well as find a new one. I’ll continue talking about this in future posts but wanted to give you a snapshot on how I approach “networking”.
First off, “networking” is a dirty word. To network has the connotation that you want to use a person for your own gain. To be successful, you have to be selfless and turn that image literally 180 degrees. You should want to help someone so you can share in their success and build a lasting relationship. When discussing with a contact, colleague, or new acquaintance, you should start the wheels in your head turning as to how you can help that person. Don’t size them up for what they can do for you but what you can do for them (kinda like JFK). I promise that the good karma will work its way around to you regardless of whether or not this person helps you in the future. Besides, you’ll feel great when that person does well because of your help.
Additionally, when you go to an event specifically to network, contrary to what many people might think, the objective should not to be to shake everyone’s hand in the room unless of course you know everyone in the room and are hosting the party. I much prefer to have 2 to 3 more in-depth conversations with new people I meet to establish a connection to them, which can continue after the event.
The best book that I have read on networking is by Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone. I highly recommend you read this cover to cover. Even though you might not like everything he says, from my experience, he has it exactly right. I know this because I used many of his suggestions prior to even reading them in the book and they were effective.
I gave a presentation on networking that I gave to a group of scientists at the Penn Biotech Group at the University of Pennsylvania. If you want a copy of this, send me an email and I’m happy to give it to you.