Sometimes when I’m talking to my boss or other more seasoned colleagues, I find myself green with envy.
They know ALL the people…..
But, I have to remind myself of one very important thing:
they’re old & they’ve been riding this horse a lot longer than I have!
I don’t mean old like “ancient” or “stone age” but old in the sense that they’ve simply been on this journey for 15+ more years than I have. Rome wasn’t build in a day. Relax…have patience….
I’m an introvert so meeting people can be painful for me. Not “stabbing in the eye” kind of pain, but it’s not on my top 5 list on most days….
As a young faculty member, building your network can seem like a daunting task. Knowing yourself and your personality are the first (and probably most important) things in order to help you build your network without “stabbing” yourself in the eye later.
I attended a LARGEEEE conference last summer. It was thousands of people and if we’re being honest: was painful for me. There were some organized events, but for the most part, it was a free-for-all after the day ended. It was so big that everyone just scattered and set in a large city, which was great for going out and checking out new restaurants, but terrible for networking. I socialized but it was with people who I already knew. No one new. On the networking scale of 1 to 10, it was a -84 for me.
Scaling back my expectations and the size of the crowd, I’ve been invited to several STEM related events over the past few months here at big box U and I’ve done much better. The size of the crowd is key for me because I feel like I can work the room without feeling like it’s working me over. I also know one or two people in the room (generally) so I can say hello to them, which leads to the old, “do you know my colleague……?” This often leads to an introduction and a connection. Much more my style.
As a young faculty member who is balancing every possible expectation, it’s ok to stand back, evaluate the crowd, and decide on a plan of attack. Knowing how we work socially is the most important aspect of the plan so don’t deny yourself before entering the hunger games of networking. You might like the challenge of taking on a room of 200, or you may covet a room of 20, either is fine.