Develop Your Network
Establish Contacts...Get Guidance...Explore Opportunities...Get Hired!
Why is networking important?
Networking with the chemistry community is an important step in developing your career as a chemist. It is the process of establishing contacts with peers, professionals, and other people in the business who can assist, guide, and maybe even hire you. Networking opens doors to internships and jobs, and it helps you gather advice about career decisions or courses of study.
Meeting New People
- Challenge yourself to meet at least two new people per event.
- Overcome the pull to talk exclusively to the people you already know. Instead, ask them if they can introduce you to someone else.
Business Card Etiquette
- Exchange business cards. If you don’t have business cards, print some. If you forget or run out of cards, offer to write down your contact information.
- Whenever you give a business card, ask for a business card. When given a business card, make the person feel important by looking at their card for a few seconds. You might see something that could be a topic of discussion.
- When you receive a business card, write comments on the card, such as the date, location, and common points of interest. These comments will prove valuable when following up with that person. This also demonstrates a sincere interest in the other person. After writing any comments on the card, place it in your wallet. This makes people feel important, in order to make yourself important to them.
- Ask open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, and how) as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. This broadens the discussion and shows you are interested.
- Engage people in a conversation about themselves, not about you.
Extending Your Conversation and Your Contacts
- Ask for two people that you can contact for more information about a topic that was discussed – and follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are reflections on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.
- Continue the connection by following up on conversations. If there was no specific request to fulfill or additional questions to ask, simply send a note indicating that you enjoyed the conversation and would like to stay in touch.
- Go low tech. In some cases, a quick phone call can be more efficient that many emails. Pick up the phone and even find time to meet face-to-face. Email is excellent when sending documents or directions – don’t overuse it.
How to Network through ACS
What better place to network than right at your own school? If your school has an ACS Student Chapter, start attending the meetings and get involved. Projects will likely include taking field trips to local chemical companies or hosting guest lectures by prominent area chemists – both of which could help you establish contacts with professional chemists in your area.
Chemists from all professions are involved in Local Sections, which are organized by geographical location. Attend a meeting to get your foot in the door. You may be able to call on the folks you meet for advice about a particular field of study or line of work.
These field-specific membership groups provide outstanding opportunities for networking with those involved in your area of interest.
National Meetings provide a venue to meet students, professors at graduate institutions, or chemists conducting research in a field you find interesting.
Every ACS National Meeting has special prgramming for undergraduate students. This provides you an excellent opportunity to network with other students, meet recruiters from graduate schools, and meet prominent professional chemists.
These provide the same opportunities for networking as National Meetings, but in a much smaller but equally-advantageous arena.