Networking: Navigating Grad School and Beyond: Skills for Academic Success

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Slides on the importance of networking for academically-minded PhD students. Written and compiled by Gregory Ward and Lauren Hall-Lew, presented at the Linguistics Society of America meeting, January …

Slides on the importance of networking for academically-minded PhD students. Written and compiled by Gregory Ward and Lauren Hall-Lew, presented at the Linguistics Society of America meeting, January 2011, Pittsburgh, PA, in a panel run by COSIAC: Committee on Student Issues and Concerns.

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  • When you’re on different levels or floors, I.e. not in contact with other people in the field.
  • When one person cannot interest the other in conversation, no matter how nice the setting…
  • When you have to pin the other person down to get their attention…
  • Lauren is going to start with “Why Network?”…
  • So people can associate a name with a face. Be active in the discipline. Be SEEN.
  • “Your work on X has really guided my thinking… I’d appreciate any comments you may have…” Tell Sandy Thompson story.


  • 1. Networking Navigating Grad School and Beyond: Skills for Academic Success Gregory Ward Northwestern University Lauren Hall-Lew University of Edinburgh LSA Annual Meeting Pittsburgh, PA 8 January 2011
  • 2. Some Examples of How Not to Network
  • 3. How Not to Network, #1
  • 4. How Not to Network, #2
  • 5. How Not to Network, #3
  • 6. So, How Do You Network and Why Do It?
  • 7. Why Network?
    • If you want to stay in linguistics/academia:
      • Everyone is a future colleague, and many people are potential future collaborators:
        • In research
        • In teaching / advising / examining
        • In event planning
    • If you don’t:
      • You never know what contacts might lead to a job!
      • You never know when you’re gonna need a linguist.
  • 8. Some Real Examples
    • Your new job has you teaching a course that’s not your specialization. What books do you use? What problem sets do you assign?
    • Your new set of students are interested in researching things outside your specialization. Whose work should they be reading?
    • Your new department is hosting a workshop and wants to invite people who specialize in topics that no one in the department works on. Who?
  • 9. Some Real Examples
    • You need people to review abstracts for a mini-conference you’re running.
    • You need people (and their students, family, & friends) to take an online experiment or survey you’re running.
    • You need people to serve as external examiners for your students’ work.
    • You want people to contribute to a thematic volume you’re editing.
  • 10. Some Real Examples
    • You’re using a new piece of technology, stats test, or other method, and you want to ask people who have experience with it.
    • You like traveling and want your trips to be paid for!
    • You want to find out who else is going to a conference you’re going to, to ride/room share… and to continue networking!
  • 11. How to Network
    • Get known
      • Get seen
      • Get heard
      • Get read
  • 12. How to Network
    • Get seen (“face time”)
      • Attend
        • Conferences
        • Institutes
        • Talks at your institution
  • 13. How to Network
    • Get heard
      • At conferences
        • Give your own presentations.
        • Ask questions at others’.
        • Talk to/email people after their talks.
        • Introduce yourself (or ask your advisor (or other appropriate person) to introduce you) to people whose work you admire and whose work relates to your own.
  • 14. How to Network
    • Get heard, cont.
      • At talks at your institution
        • Ask questions
        • Attend the reception and talk to the speaker
        • Attend the dinner and talk to the speaker
  • 15. How to Network
    • Now that you have their attention…
    • What do you say?
      • Briefly talk about your work (“Elevator pitch”)
      • Show familiarity with theirs (without sucking up)
  • 16. How to Network
    • Get read
      • Publications
        • Journal articles (of course)
        • Conference proceedings
        • Working papers
        • Keep your website & list of pubs up-to-date
      • Send your work to relevant people with a (brief) cover note explaining why. (“targeted direct (e-)mail”)
  • 17. Networking 2.0
    • Blogging
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
  • 18. Twitter
    • Transnational network of linguists and other language specialists
      • Interaction between people you know in person and (more) people you’ve never met & you may not get to meet in person ever but who are interested in the same things
      • Brief, often real-time, interactions that require less time & effort than emails
  • 19. Twitter Examples
    • Exchanging information about conferences, workshops, jobs, journals, books…
    • Collecting data on language use, speaker intuitions, language attitudes & ideologies
    • Collecting websites for teaching and research
      • Collections of Praat scripts, R advice, LaTeX advice
      • Instructional YouTube videos
      • News media articles & (non-)specialist blogs
    • Getting a quick and varied set of responses
    • Invitations to give invited talks!
  • 20.
    • Spring 2009
      • I’m a student in California. I’ve been on Twitter awhile, following linguists and (interactively) tweeting about language. Then, I get offered a post-doc in Oxford...
    • September 2009
      • I move to the UK. I start interactively tweeting more with people, especially linguists, living in GMT.
    • November 2009
      • A UK linguist on Twitter who I’ve never met in person invites me, via Twitter , to give a talk in his department.
    • March 2010
      • I add another invited talk to my CV. (Three months later, I get offered a permanent position at another UK university.)
    my favorite example
  • 21. More Tips
    • At conferences, hang out with students who don’t go to your school (you see those guys all the time, right?).
    • Try not to feign interest just for the sake of ‘networking’.
    • Avoid long, rambling emails to people you’ve never met.
    • Don’t expect an extended back-and-forth email conversation.
    • Be patient.
  • 22. Afterwards
    • Follow through: email the people you’ll say you’re going to email.
    • Reintroduce yourself in email, because (brief) reminders are good.
    • Read up about the person on their website or through their work, before contacting them for the first time.
    • Respect people’s time, especially the demands on their schedule.
  • 23. Always Provide Your Contact Info!
      • Gregory Ward
      • email : [email_address]
      • url :
      • Lauren Hall-Lew
      • email: [email_address]
      • url:
      • Twitter: @dialect
  • 24. Any Questions?