Networking: Introducing networking and its value

If you are here because you are determined to become a more effective networker and recognize the value it will bring to your career and progression, you can probably skip through this page fairly quickly. However, if you have got this far because you view networking as something you feel you HAVE to do, but feel it is a manipulative or cynical way to get something out of someone else, then the aim of this page is to help you move beyond this view.

It’s critical that you network in an authentic way with a natural communication style and a genuine objective. If you try to put on an act, it will quickly become exhausting and you may meet people who spot your insincerity or discomfort. You are also more likely to duck out of potential networking situations, convincing yourself that you aren’t really missing out because you don’t have anything to sell/promote or ask for.

Instead of trying to push the benefits of networking, let’s think about the current academic landscape and what it demands of researchers.

We are working in a sector that needs to demonstrate its value and influence. Whatever your ultimate career goal, as an individual researcher you need to show that your work has engaged your peer group and that you have done something which added value in your field. This is measured through citations of your published work, invitations to speak at conferences and seminars and inclusion in funding proposals.

Before we move on, here’s a question to consider: 'What is my reaction to the word “networking”?'

If you now feel ready to explore how to become a more effective networker, the next section looks at the common barriers people face.

If you aren’t ready to move on yet, you can work through the more detailed questions in Networking worksheet 1 (Office document, 41kB) and arrange to discuss your thoughts about networking with a colleague or mentor.

Move onto Part 2: 'Where could networking take you?'

Part 1: Introducing networking and its value

Feeling cynical about the value of networking?

Part 2: Where could networking take you?

Long term career goals and how networking can help

Part 3: Barriers to networking

Observing and reflecting to improve our own personal impact

Part 5: Broadening and growing your network

Structured and informal approaches to build your network

Part 6: What they need to know and useful tools and approaches

Identifying what to share with your network and when