Conference stratigery

Jun 04 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

What does an early-career scientist have to do at conferences besides give a good talk? In my mind, it may even be more important to make a friend. Yeah, sounds stupid but hear me out.

Whenever I go to a science gathering (workshop, conference, etc.) I always make it a mission to get to know at least two people in my field more senior than me, who did not know me personally before. Maybe this sounds ridiculous to decide consciously, but it is really easy to just hang out with the people you already know at meetings. Rather than taking the comfortable route, I ensure that I seek out people so that they can put a face to a name they may have seen in the literature, and numerous good things have resulted from making this effort. I've twice been invited for departmental seminars, started a collaboration, been given useful data as well as feedback on my grant proposals that people had reviewed, all based on conversations that happened or started at a meeting.

Does it sometimes mean that I get stuck in awkward conversations or some painful social interactions? Yup. But I consider it a huge waste if I leave a meeting without having gotten at least a couple of senior people to remember my name and in many little ways this pays off. I'll take an edge I can get right now.

14 responses so far

  • chall says:

    Sounds smart to me. I mean, is there any other way to get to know other people? (apart from the obvious, having others introduce you to their collegues but that's almost the same thing, isn't?)I miss conferences...

  • Donnie Berkholz says:

    My goal is 1 new person per day. It's still a challenge because I'm pretty introverted, but it's a lot better than nothing.

  • Ink says:

    When you make your new acquaintances, do you say "stratigery"? Because if someone came up to me and said that snarkily, we'd be instant friends.

  • Dr Becca, PhD says:

    I am at a conference RIGHT NOW, and I have been totally slacking in the making friends department. So thanks for this little kick in the tush! Luckily, I'm about to present my poster, which is a great (and easy) way to meet people, since they pretty much have to come talk to me.

  • Comrade PhysioProf says:

    When I'm at a conference, I try to stay fucking drunk the entire time.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post. Its a good reminder to focus less on the familiar and more on the unknown.

  • Gerty-Z says:

    I'm at a conference RIGHT NOW, too! And I'm trying to stay at least a little drunk the whole time. That is wise advice from CPP, IMHO.

  • Natalie says:

    @chall: me too. Showing up to "regular" work half drunk just isn't the same...

  • Professor in Training says:

    I prefer to catch up with friends, get as much free stuff as possible from vendors, and sit by the pool.

  • Micro Dr. O says:

    Couldn't agree more! My intentions fell apart at last week's conference, only making one new "friend" - and at my poster (agreed with Dr. Becca that this is a great way to meet people). I blame the horrid case of bronchitis I was suffering from for not seeking out more connections. Next conference in 2 months will be more productive on the friend-ing front!

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Everyone has their own conference survival manual and I don't want to suggest that I only try and meet a couple of new people every time. Rather, I make a specific effort to seek out a couple of key senior people during the meeting (usually more than once) to chat with them. If appropriate, I'll even follow the meeting up with an email. Meeting "the others" is most often down with beer in hand and talk of stratigery.

  • Dr.Girlfriend says:

    I wait for people to approach me because I am shy and socially awkward. I know I should try harder.On top of that, I seem to lack the necessary skills to discern between someone being friendly and someone chatting me up - until it becomes too late to avoid embarrassment. I hate that. Making friends is hard enough without people treating conferences like pickup joints. I prefer conversations that take place by posters because they are clearly about science and I know what to say. I find social situations exhausting. I am happy to retire to my room , but hate it when I am forced to share a room.

  • Anonymous says:

    I like hanging out with my friends at conferences. Luckily my friends seem to enjoy networking, so I tag along with them and meet new people that way šŸ™‚

  • Payal Joshi says:

    I had firmly decided that making posters will be the last thing on my mind to communicate science. However, conferences are an essential part in the early stage of one's scientific career---- no matter, if it is a poster session or an oral session with handful of people.

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