A well developed network is one of your most important assets. The quality and strength of your network significantly impacts career opportunities, your career trajectory, and overall success. It can take years, sometimes decades, to develop a robust professional network, and it often does not occur by chance. Rather, this occurs through active involvement in relevant communities, organizations, and groups. Below are a few examples for how to become involved in activities to strengthen and broaden your professional network.
Join Industry Associations
Involve yourself in your “industry” association(s) to develop your professional network and thought leadership. For example, clinical researchers can become involved in the “Association of Clinical Research Professionals,” drug metabolism scientists can become involved in the drug metabolism discussion groups located in specific areas of the US, and oncology researchers can involve themselves in the “American Association for Cancer Research.” Identify one or more of the thousands of existing professional organizations that are relevant to your background and interests. Join the national organization as well as the local chapter, if one exists in your location. Take an active role to organize meetings, plan networking events, or increase outreach and membership. This will allow you to build meaningful relationships with others who share similar career backgrounds.
Volunteer for Causes you Believe In
If you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of patients with a specific disease, consider becoming active in a non-profit focused on the disease. Volunteer to organize events, increase awareness, perform development work to raise funds, and interact with patient advocacy groups. Opportunities may also exist to join their board as your involvement grows.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Entrepreneurs
If you are interested in entrepreneurial life sciences companies, consider involving yourself in a local or national startup incubator or business plan competition. This will allow you to help a startup develop, and also build relationships with others who are passionate about this ecosystem.
Network with Inspiring Women Leaders
Women have many opportunities to connect with others who are passionate about developing women leaders. Groups like “Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association,” “Women in Bio,” “Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology,” and the “Association for Women in Science“ all contribute to the successful development of women in the life sciences sector. Become involved in the events and the mentor networks and create an impact.
Get involved, become active, and consider starting a new organization if one does not exist in your area. You will be surprised by how quickly your network will grow. And while a great network may not translate into an immediate new job opportunity, you will encounter more opportunities for career growth through the course of your working life than your less well-connected peers.