If you have been following the blog calendar, you have been thinking about your career, and maybe have even met with a career counselor. That means (hopefully) that you have a few ideas about career options, and some questions that an informational interview might help you answer. Now that you have filled in your networking map, it is time to ask those you know if they know anyone you could talk with.
Say you are pondering a career in industry. Your first two circles will be the easiest place to start and will most likely yield your best results. After you have worked through your first two circles, go through your next circle and think about people from biotech and pharmaceutical companies you have met (or even people on the attendee list that you did not meet) at conferences and meetings. Or perhaps in this circle is a professor from a past institution that you know had a postdoc transition to a company. This is also the place to search the OITE Alumni Database for former fellows who share NIH connections. Then the final circle, people in the community, is where you let anyone you know help you find an introduction (you never know who your neighbor knows until you ask).
Now, you ask, “I have been thinking about career paths in industry, do you know anyone who has taken this path? Would you introduce us?” The key here is that you need to be able to ask specifically for what you want; your network cannot read your mind. You cannot assume that they know you need a job, and thus will introduce you to everyone in their contact list. You have to be proactive to obtain the introductions you need.
There are definitely different degrees on connections between you and the people on your list. Some of your contacts you have never lost touch with; these people are definitely easier to talk with and to ask for an introduction. Others, you haven’t heard from in quite a while. No Worries! People often use the line, “I hope you remember me, we sat next to each other in first year graduate school class”. As long as you remind people how you have a connection, it is likely that they will engage in a conversation again.
Now that you have asked for what you need, make sure to follow our tips for informational interviews.
BTW: Here is another resource for building your networking map that leads you through the process much more in-depth. Developmental Networking Questionnaire by Mary Higgins, HBS: 9-404-105, http://hbsp.harvard.edu/
And a blog post about keeping up with your connections from the ACS: http://acscareers.wordpress.com/
Join us in April to discuss how to use a scientific conference to your career advantage.