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tions (e.g., technical, professional, service to the community) If you initiate a conversation that is awkward or ends poorly,
and how they have influenced you or, better yet, others try to take it in stride. After calming down, remind yourself
(Misner, 2017). that the other person might have a lot going on “behind the
scenes” that may have influenced their reaction. Review the
Although connecting with a wide variety of people is useful, conversation to learn if there was something you could have
efforts for networking up with those in your professional area said or done differently, then move forward (Golde, 2015).
benefit from preparation. When approaching an expert with
whom you hope to connect, prepare by familiarizing yourself Socials and coffee breaks are also great opportunities to
with the technical language and/or jargon of the field and a overcome your natural fears about approaching people who
general understanding of their work and its value. you don’ t know or to whom you haven’t yet been introduced.
If you see someone standing alone, that’s a great time to
Many senior professionals appreciate the opportunity to help approach them and start a conversation.
others, especially students. However, when approaching a
senior person, remember that they are likely to have many Conferences are also a good time to look for opportunities
obligations and only limited available time. When asking for to volunteer. Volunteering expands your network because
help, try to leave a way for them to politely decline without you interact informally with others, including senior people.
embarrassment or suggest an alternate If they agree Shared experiences, such as those formed while working
to meet with you, review a proposal, or give a presentation, together on committees, create connections that make it
find ways to efficiently use the limited time they have to offer. easier to talk with people about other topics and expand
Never ask a senior mentor for a last-minute favor; make your your networking web in multiple directions. For students, the
request with a long lead time. ASA Student Council has ways to get involved. Nonstudent
volunteers are needed for numerous tasks (e.g., judging stu-
Networking at Confe rences dent talks, organizing special sessions). Volunteers are often
Meetings, workshops, and conferences provide remarkable requested at the open meetings of the technical committees.
opportunities for learning and expanding your network.
Make sure your speech, dress, and body language are Initiating a Discussion via Email
respectful and professional at all times. (This holds for all Because senior mentors receive alot of unsolicited email mes-
professional interactions, especially job interviews.) Avoid sages, sending one to someone you’ve never met rarely works.
complaining or sharing critical comments about colleagues; If you are following up on a face-to-face meeting, such as at a
you don’t want to be remembered for being negative. conference, you have a better chance of receiving a response.
If not, a good approach is to ask a trusted advisor or some
At the conference, attend presentations and ask good ques- other senior person you might have networked with infor-
tions. If you follow up with the speaker after their presentation, mally to send an email introducing you to the senior mentor.
begin by briefly introducing yourself. Sometimes it’s useful Depending on the response, you can then follow up with your
to lift your name tag up to eye level during the introduction own email to the senior mentor with more specifics.
so that they can see your name and affiliation, especially if
spelling or pronunciation is tricky. If they know (or know When composing an email to a new contact, use a profes-
of) your mentor or collaborators, mention your connections. sional tone and be sure to do your homework Your initial
Prepare business cards before the conference and tuck some email should be short and professional and include a clear
in your name badge so they are easily accessible. If there is subject line, a brief introduction including any professional
limited time for discussion, offer your business card and ask connections, and where you’ve met before (if applicable).
if it is OK to follow up with an email. Because conferences can Develop an understanding of their contributions, experiences,
be hectic, especially for people in leadership roles, follow-up or interests and ask specific answerable questions. A request
communications should include a reminder of who you are, for a phone call or video conference is often a good way to
where you met, and about what you talked. One idea for fol- continue the connection.
lowing up is sending a “thank you” message, especially if the
person spent significant time talking with you, referred you Remember that senior people have a lot of email to wade
to another colleague, or gave you a new idea (Golde, 2016). through, so you will usually need to be patient. Wait at least
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