Meeting new people in the working world is easy – you interact with people in the same department and company everyday, or get introduced to new acquaintances during conferences and conventions – but making friends can be a little more difficult.
Aside from possible undertones of competition brewing at work, there’s also the idea that you might not have the time to invest in new relationships. However, forming these connections is important for any professional who wants to survive and thrive in their chosen field. You never know when you might need a helping hand.
For scientists, operating in your particular niche exposes you to a small, but essential network of like-minded peers. Someone you met at a convention might just be a potential collaborator in the future. Or they might be your key to obtaining a grant, or a favorable review in a peer-reviewed journal.
The larger your profile in the community and the more expansive your professional network is, the more likely you’ll find a leverage not only within your circle of experts, but also in the job market.
Here’s how you can make, and keep, those connections you make in the scientific community:
- Make an Active Effort to Mingle
As we’ve mentioned earlier, conventions and conferences are the best places to get introduced to other scientists outside work.
There are a number of ways to get acquainted with other scientists, but one of the simplest is to introduce yourself, and keep yourself memorable. Dr. Joanne Kamens of AddGene explains that an initial self-introduction before the actual conference need not be awkward. In fact, you can go ahead and prepare business cards for when you strike a chord with a valuable colleague.
A brief introduction and a rich conversation are enough to start off a good friendship. Outside the event, you can add them on social media. There are various platforms out there, but for professional connections you want to keep, inviting them to connect on LinkedIn is definitely advisable.
- Go Beyond Small Talk
It’s good to have a wide network of acquaintances, but it’s also another thing to have a group of reliable friends who understand your work. These are the people who will give you relevant feedback, and support you through the stages of your career growth. To transition from simple acquaintance to friend, try to go beyond the small talk.
Find common ground outside work – or talk about your passion for your work. In a field of constant innovation like Science, you won’t run out of topics to talk about on recent breakthroughs.
Other than that, you can also start to open up about personal topics, like your home or family life. Just make sure that the other person is always on the same page, too.
- Help People Out
One of the best ways to establish trust and project an image of likability is by helping others out. Even if you don’t have that award-winning research paper, or you haven’t reached a scientific discovery yet, you can still make a good impression through the little things. Seemingly small acts like helping set up a presentation, or assisting someone, provide insight into what type of person you are.
Other people, regardless of profession, would like to be close to someone who they know they can rely on. If you want to be fast friends with someone, offer them your help when they need it. Chances are, they’ll be there for you when you need them, too.
In Sum: Friendships Matter
Success isn’t always achieved through one’s individual merits. Sometimes, you need the help of other people to get where you want to be. This doesn’t necessarily mean just using your personal connections as an advantage in the job market. It could also mean the support, trust, and personal satisfaction of meeting fellow professionals who understand you.
Establishing new friendships in the workplace and the scientific community in particular can greatly boost not only your professional career, but also your personal life. Go out and meet new people, initiate stimulating conversations, and always be ready to help a friend in need to win them over.
Laura Jonson is a human resource specialist and a reqruiter. Also she is a writer and a blogger. Now she is working on academic writing servie Assignment Masters. In the future she is going to launch her own recruitment agency dedicated to eduacational staff searching.