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The Secret Behind How To Network Better

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Career Development | October 23, 2015

“Introductions should change based on where you are. My introduction in a classroom here is different than if we met in the hallway at a conference center,” Dr. Teresa Evans, director of the Office of Career Development, explained to a group of trainees at Tuesday’s fall Career Development Workshop.

The workshop is part of a monthly series (every 3rd Tuesday from 4-5 p.m.), which will help train scientists on important career development topics such as how to network effectively, build a resume that stands out, and make a good impression during an interview. Besides being mindful of the audience and the setting, things like smiling, posture, and eye contact are other nonverbal cues to keep in mind during introductions.

“We’ve all been in that situation at a conference where we are waiting to talk to someone but they are already part of a group. Ten seconds of bravery will get you a long way. You can work your way in when you are confident but if you don’t speak up, you may not get your chance,” Dr. Evans said.

Dr. Evans was joined in the workshop by Beth Eby, principal of Eby Financial, co-founder of The Health Cell, and Career Advisory Council member. The two presenters agreed that people have just a few seconds to make an impression and that a confident introduction is the key. Eby offered three ways to appear more confident it if you aren’t there yet.

Tip #1: Think of just two or three things you want a person to remember about you. Are you “hardworking,” or a “stem cell researcher,” or “from Texas?” Eby suggests picking one or two words to describe work and one to describe something personal. Good phrases to use are “I have a reputation for…” or “My friends say…” This third-party attribution is a nice, cordial way of touting your good qualities.

Tip #2: Make it about the other person. Ask people about themselves, let them talk and then ask a follow up question. Showing interest in the other person makes them feel important and will make you feel confident, whether you end up talking about sports or the weather or their work.

Tip #3: Deflect your introduction to another person. One trick is to introduce to each other two people you already know. You can say things about another that you can’t say about yourself. It’s gracious for me to say, “Let me introduce you to Dr. Evans, an amazing leader who does wonderful work creating innovative programs for graduate students” while it would be anything but gracious for her to speak about herself that way. Being generous with remarks about other people is a great way to appear confident. And remember, when someone gives you a nice introduction, always return the favor. You’ll look good twice.

Eby explained that nervousness leads people to talk more than they should.

“It’s much better to say one thing about yourself and give people the opportunity to ask further questions. Don’t just talk about your research endlessly, and know that it’s always better to leave people wishing they knew more than to have people wondering when are you going to stop!” Eby said.


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