Since moving to Seattle I’ve found myself in a part of my career that I haven’t before: I don’t have an extensive professional network.
Networking, as much as we all seem to dislike it, is one of the most important things that we can do as we progress along our professional paths. You never know if that undergraduate you helped with an experiment that time might end up at the company where you want to land a job, or if that sales rep from a conference is on the panel of one of your interviews (that has happened to me.)
Our networks are one of our most powerful assets, and carefully curating new ones after a big move, career or location-wise, is important.
For the most part, networking events are a free opportunity for you to meet like-minded individuals, career professionals and a multitude of people you can learn from.
Meet-ups are one great way to meet new people and grown your network, and the best bit? They’re always really friendly and non-intimidating. Focusing mainly on social gatherings, the meet-up provides an environment for informal discussion, which often leads to potential ways you can work together. More importantly, it offers us a way to get our faces out there, allowing others to develop a lasting impression of who we are.
Developing networks in this relaxed environment really motivates us to keep expanding our connections, ultimately making us more likely to gain career, education or professional skills development advantage from the network.
With a bit of research and some determination, I started taking my own advice and got involved in local meet-ups.
Since moving, I’ve had more time to re-engage with my interest in Python, and how we can use data to improve biological research. As I know very few researchers in this field, and since Seattle is one of the code capitals of the world, expanding my professional network here felt like an obvious first step.
PyLadies is a nationwide network for women who code in python. Their aim is to get more women to be active participants and leaders in the Python world, as well as promoting, educating and advancing a diverse and supportive Python community. The local chapter PyLadies Seattle offers hacknights, learning circles and social events that allow new and experienced Pythonistas to hone their skills, mentor others and just have fun.
Another group I’ve become involved with is the Association of Women in Science (AWIS). Another national association, the AWIS has chapters in most big cities (and some not so big ones) and has a really great one here in Seattle. Having left academics behind for the more industrially-focused world, connecting with lots of great new industry scientists was really important for me professionally.
My first meeting? Their summer social meet-up at a local brewery, and it was a blast. I can be shy with new people, despite being an extrovert, but the society were welcoming, informative and above all else supportive. Now volunteering on the events programs, I am active member in the society, helping to plan the next event on September 20th!
Another great option if you’re more reserved is to take to Twitter, Linkedin or Instagram (or any other social media) and connect with some of the amazing scientist there too. Some of the best networking links I have have actually been forged on Twitter and Instagram, where you can engage with others in your field in real-time.
There are also virtual networking groups for everything so you’ll be sure to find somewhere you can contribute, support and intermingle with others in your field.
Above all else, remember your network is your strength. These are the people who can help shape your career, who can support and mentor you, or that you can guide and advise in the future.
You never know when you might all need each other!
If you’re looking for some more good resources on how to better network, let me point you here.