How do I play the networking game?
January 28, 2013 6:45 AM   Subscribe

I lack the networking skills needed to progress further in my job. I'm trying my best, it's not working out. I need some help on how to make it happen.

I'm in a very technical area of Research in Computer Science. In essence, I've spent the last decade honing my technical skills and making a mark for myself. My colleagues and trusted acquaintances tend to hold me in high esteem, trust my judgement and make all the necessary noises that lead me to believe I am valued.

I've never really been one to network much. I get on well with the people in my lab, socialise etc but I've never really played the networking game. I find it very very hard to go down to the pub and talk about general science or have strong opinions on pieces of work (partly personality based, partly because I am less knowledgeable than my peers). I find it even harder to do the dinners and drinks and other social events that seem to be the crux of networking. I've always relied on direct information transmission (read the paper, watch the talk, talk to the person when you have something relevant and useful to say) and have never been good at the "osmosis" side of things.

Recently (last 6 months) I have started forcing myself to do the networking but I find often people don't follow up or tend to forget about me and my work. In effect it's not making a difference and it's obvious I'm not making an impression but I can't seem to work out what I'm doing/not doing so. I'd appreciate any pointers geared towards either making this more effective for me. I'm tired of seeing colleagues progress while I languish based on the fact that they are more personally familiar with others.
posted by gadha to Work & Money (1 answer total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Volunteer to organize a meeting (or session at a larger conference) that has a mix of formal (talks) and informal (happy hour) networking opportunities. This will force you to reach out to speakers and potential attendees during the organizing phase and give you an excuse to mingle and check in with everyone during the event. It will also put you in a position where you're seen as a useful/prestigious person to talk to, assumed to know something about the subject matter, etc. And if you have co-organizers, you'll get to know them well during the planning process.
posted by ecsh at 7:05 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

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