Saturday, October 11, 2014

Building your professional connections #ghc14

Session: Building your Professional Network
Speakers: Elizabeth Bautista (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
                 Raquell Holmes (Boston University)
Venue: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2014 GHC 2014

This session offered some ideas on how to present and introduce yourself in a professional setting, making connections and then staying connected. 

1. Drafting our elevator speech: Drafting an elevator speech is in a way challenging. We not only need to introduce ourselves to someone we are meeting for the first time but also make a positive impression. We talk about where we are from (institution), what's are our research/job interests, what brings us to the conference etc. The speakers presented a useful tip that can help us make the content of our speech better. Think about what you would like to know about the other person and then inculcate that into your introduction. 
      The presenters engaged the audience in 3-4 minute group activity where every person had to introduce herself to four other people. Speakers asked everyone to think about four words/adjectives that they would like to hear about themselves. I thought highlighting this point was important since many of us missed mentioning about them in our introduction. Traits such as self-motivated, reliable, team-player etc. 

2. How to approach someone you do not know: Now, this gets tricky at times. How do you walk up to someone you want to talk to and believe that he/she can offer some advice/perspective but do not know much about them. How to break the ice? One of the ideas speakers presented is - to ask them about their experience on some of the decision paths they feel they might have come across. Or if you are struggling with a specific issue, you can seek their opinion on what's their take on it. 

3. Staying connected: Now, making connections is one thing but staying connected afterwards is equally important. The speakers provided a new perspective on how we should look at the idea of maintaining connections. Instead of looking at the people in your network as someone who can provide let's say recommendation letters etc, we can also think about reaching out to invite them for a talk, collaboration or even seeking feedback. 

GHC 14 - "Building your professional network"

I hope you find this information helpful! Thanks,

- Dippy

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