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Networking 101

25 Sep 2018 9:19 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)


Analysts from Northglenn, Broomfield, Metro, and Aurora display their molecule string art made at the Summer Social 2018


What is Networking?  Jockeying for position for a new job?  Hob nobbing with more “important” people?  Memorizing the names and personal addresses of 50 people in a room?  Maybe it’s not as hard as it seems.  The best way to network for one person may be the complete opposite for another.  This is more of a discussion around why networking is even a thing and how to approach it with a healthy goal in mind.  For many of us lab folks, the idea of networking can be exhausting and really freak us out.  So, why should we get out of the comfort zone of the lab to mix and mingle with other lab people?  Analytical skills don’t always cross-over to people skills but getting to know people in other labs can be important for many different reasons.  It can lead to:

  • Sharing of ideas. What better way to learn about a new process, method, or way of doing things than in a casual setting over a drink or bite to eat?

  • Solving problems. Our field is not Top Secret. Labs are often reluctant to tell others when things are going wrong, but in this community, people want to help and by opening up and sharing issues you are having in your lab, you can learn other options to solve your problems.
  • Sharing of instruments/reagents/chemicals. How many times have you realized that you are out of a certain chemical and there is no way to get a new batch in time. Maybe that new person you chatted with at the lab nearby can spare enough to get you out of a pickle.
  • New friends. The lab community is full of interesting, amazing people who you may have a connection with beyond the basic chit chat.  If nothing else, you now have familiar faces to say hello to at future conferences and trainings.
  • Future job opportunities. Being able to put a face with a name increases the likelihood of standing out in a sea of resumes.
  • Growing your skill set. Networking can open the door to new programs, projects, and professional organizations that can all help you grow in your professional career.

So, what to do if you like the sound of these outcomes, but don’t feel comfortable at networking events?  First of all, not many people truly feel comfortable networking, so keep it in mind that the person standing next to you may be just as uncomfortable as you.  If mingling is not your strong suit, try setting a goal of talking to just one or two people or getting an answer to a very specific lab issue at an event.  One easy way to get to know others at networking events is to ask lots of questions.  A few to get you started:

  • What lab do you work in and what analyses do you do?
  • Do you use any contract labs for anything? Do you like them?
  • What analysis do you have the most issues with? Why?
  • Are there any new methods you are considering keeping in-house?
  • What certifications do you have/what auditors have you worked with? What has your experience been with them?
  • What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge for your lab in the coming year?
  • What are the biggest successes you have had?

Keep all this in mind when you come to the holiday social this December 6th!  We all love to see new faces as well as catch up with those we haven’t seen in a while. 

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