Networking is the process of cultivating relationships to draw upon the expertise of other people in order to enhance your own research process and impact. In this section you will learn how to network in-person and online with your supervisor, peers and industry at events, conferences, professional organisations and online. Self-promotion improves your global profile as a researcher and opens up prospects for further research, invitations to present at conferences or publish in journals, and opportunities to engage with industry.
Your supervisor is your adviser to achieve your research outcome, your mentor and a guide to success beyond your degree. Supervisors are obligated to help you prepare presentations of your research work in faculty seminars, arrange to meet other researchers in your field and attend meetings or conferences. The QUT Higher Degree Research Guideline details the support you can expect to receive from your supervisor.
You will benefit from a continuous mutual exchange of ideas with peers and co-workers throughout the duration of your degree. Remember, not all your peers will be working with you at QUT, or even in a University, but can also be in industry, start-ups, or government. These colleagues bring together a vast amount of knowledge in your discipline so it is important to spend a portion of your research time interacting through casual conversations or formal communications and meetings. Experienced peers can also provide you with guidance on important research activities such as useful software, managing your literature, or conceptualising your research question.
Your faculty will organise a variety of professional events including talks, guest lectures, workshops and conferences. There are also informal social activities that you might attend to extend your range of networks and professional relationships. Many events are advertised via email lists and social media so scan and register for lists and groups that are in your field of research. Even if you cannot attend all the events, you will keep informed of current topics of interest and how your research aligns with new research directions.
Conferences and events
Conferences are important opportunities to discuss your research ideas in a wider forum. With the support and guidance of your supervisor, you will submit research papers to conferences and symposia. It is also important to attend conferences to extend your professional networks and to be fully aware of evolving areas of research. Conversing on your topic with a wider range of peers increases the likelihood that your work will be relevant and interesting to your research community.
Make sure that the conference is legitimate. Much like predatory journals, predatory or fake conferences are set up to look like a scientific conference or meeting but have exploitative practices, lack editorial standards and provide fake agendas. The trouble is many look legitimate. Due diligence is the key to ensure you make the right decision about attendance at the conference. Think.Check.Attend. "provides guidelines that help researchers to differentiate between an authentic conference and the one they should avoid".
QUT can also connect you with other events where you'll have the opportunity to discuss your research, often with a broader community of researchers, government, and industry. These include events like hackathons or Grand Challenge Lectures, and even training events. The GRE+D fortnightly email alert contains details of all these opportunities and is delivered to your student inbox.
Professional organisations facilitate networking by connecting you with industry and giving you access to email lists, Twitter and other communications that alert members to events, conferences, newsletters and continuing education opportunities. You may have to pay a yearly fee to be a member of these organisations.
There are a variety of ways to network with colleagues online. Well conducted online behaviour may positively affect how employers come to be aware of your work and recognise your potential to become an invaluable member of their team.
Creating your own website is a good way to centralise your online presence. Use a website to direct colleagues to your publications, curriculum vitae and social media outlets such as Twitter. Be aware that, in your own online space, you do not officially represent QUT so ensure you remain neutral in your descriptions of yourself and your research and do not speak in any way on behalf of the University.
A professional blog of your own or blogs of other researchers is a useful method for conceptualising and exploring your own topic. Be guided by recommendations of your peers, mentors and researchers in which blogs are worthwhile. However, when you contribute to blogs, remember that you have a responsibility to respect the work and views of others and to maintain academic integrity (see module 6. Acknowledge) at all times. By tagging the title and contents of your blog posts (e.g. using Dublin Core), your content can be indexed by search engines thereby ensuring your research can be broadcast to a wider community.
Twitter can be an excellent way to share the latest news and topics in your research with peers. Twitter is best used to summarise ideas interesting to you and to share those with like-minded scholars. Link to recently published articles in your area or your own blog posts to generate interest but do keep your activity professional to assure followers engage with your intellectual ideas.
Appropriate use of Facebook to connect with colleagues and peers is a good way to stay in touch and communicate to a broad community of researchers. Relationships formed at faculty events or conferences can be consolidated via Facebook.
However, while high quality online work may enhance your reputation as a scholar, consider carefully the information you make public. Conduct yourself professionally and represent the work and views of your colleagues respectfully and without prejudice, and ensure your account has the appropriate privacy settings.
LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking site, and is a fantastic way to expand your networks, follow up from face-to-face meetings, and connect with professional and research opportunities. Increasingly, recruiters and HR departments are referring to LinkedIn when searching for and assessing candidates, and LinkedIn is a useful place to post your publications, research outcomes, and share interesting articles with people in your network.
Activity – Sign up to faculty email lists
- Email the administrator of your faculty and ensure that you are signed up for email alerts for upcoming faculty events.
- Search your region for faculties with events relevant to your research interests. Email the faculty administrator requesting to be added to their event email list.
- Keep an eye out for the fortnightly GRE+D email alerts, sent to your student email address. They collate opportunities available at QUT for HDR students, including training and events.