Working as a researcher can be an isolating job – sometimes you are working on something that only a few other people in the world understand.
But you still have the opportunity to collaborate and share your research with others, from sharing a few ideas via email to working on a high profile research project with many other people.
Join existing networks
- Be prepared: You never know when you will meet someone interested in your research. Be prepared to explain your work in 60 seconds, to answer questions, and to engage with them about how it might be relevant to what they are working on. Practise answering questions about your short-term research plans and your long-term career options – you never know who you will meet!
- Start with your supervisor/mentor: If you need assistance in a particular area, ask your research supervisor or mentor to introduce you to someone who works on that topic. Chances are they already know someone you don’t yet.
- Contact others working in your field: You can approach people at conferences, or perhaps even write/email or phone them. While contacting them is very important to you, they may have other competing priorities and take some time to reply – don’t be disheartened, but do give them time to reply before you chase them. When you make contact, try to point out how making the connection with you will benefit both your research and theirs.
- RGS-IBG has many Research Groups covering a broad range of geographical interests (see useful links).
- Use online forums, mailing lists and other tools: There is a wealth of resources available on the internet to encourage collaboration, especially when you cannot be face to face with other researchers. These include websites and forums - simple keyword searches of the internet will allow you to find these.
- Follow-up: If you take someone’s suggestions on board or they’ve helped you in your work, it is worth letting them know. It’s important to say thank-you, because you never know when your career paths will cross again!
- Keep your personal social networking separate: You may also have an online presence through Facebook or a personal blog, or through social networking sites, but this does not substitute for professional networking. If people are interested enough in your work to search for you online, what will they find!
Create your own network
Sometimes, a network doesn’t exist for the type of research you are doing. You might consider looking for others with shared interests.
- Have an online presence: it is useful to be able to direct people to examples of your work, and a website or blog is a quick and easy way of doing this.
- Read the RGS-IBG ILCB guide 'Developing an Online Presence'.
- Consider hosting your own conference/seminar: If there are enough people working in your field or with an interest in your research, considering holding a one-day conference to enable a face to face meeting.