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Tips on networking outside of academia

One of the best ways to land a new job is through personal contacts.  As a scientist in academia, you have many opportunities to forge relationships within academia through seminars, conferences and more.  However, if you are interested in learning more about career opportunities outside of academia, it’s not always easy to make connections (especially for us in biological sciences).

In this blog, I provide several groups you can join to build professional contacts outside of academia.

Join entrepreneur, consulting, or other career clubs on campus.

Many times, there are clubs specifically aimed at grad students.  There you can meet like-minded people interested in the same career path.  Good organizations often invite outside speakers, which gives you added opportunities to build your network.  If a club doesn’t exist, and there is a perceivable need for it, it may be a good idea to start the club yourself.  It would look great on your resume, and provide you with leadership experience, as well as opportunity to learn more about the career path.

Join the local toastmasters.

Toastmasters is fun, it will make you a better speaker, and it’s a great place to meet all kinds of people.

Attend business/law/etc. seminars on campus.

Seminars are a great place to learn the newest trend in an industry, gain insights into the career paths that people took, and most of all, a great way to connect with a leader of an industry through the speaker.  Thing is, as a student, it is easier to approach high impact speakers than as a person out of school looking for a job, so use this time wisely when you are in grad school, or even as a postdoc.

Join your local alumni association.

This is especially helpful if you went to one of the top undergraduate schools, and live in a large city.

Linkedin.

Set up a profile, contact people you are interested in for informational interviews.  See if any of your existing contacts know anyone you might want to talk to.

Get yourself out there, and you will be a networking pro in no time.

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