Three Simple Steps to Networking Sucess at AIO 2014

By Arlene Smith, Ph.D.


1) "The Approach."
In a panel session say, "I have a question and I would like your thoughts." In this manner you are showing the panelist that you value his/her opinion. 

During informal networking, approach a group and say "May I join you?" Remember, networking is about meeting new people. They want to meet you, too.

Ask yourself, "What is the worst that could happen?" The worst is that the panelist or group isn't friendly, in which case you move on. A better question: "What is the BEST that could happen?"

2) "The Conversation."
During informal networking, after exchanging names and basic information, it is an excellent time for questions. I estimate that 90% of networking is showing that you have interest in other people - focus on them. Perhaps you will enter seamlessly into the conversation. If not - or regardless - here are some good questions to get the conversation going:

  • Is there anyone here you hope to meet, and why?
  • What are you currently working on?
  • What result do you expect to see?
  • What have been the challenges? (Maybe you can help.)
  • What has been your biggest success?

3) "Move On / Follow Up."
During informal networking, when it is time to move on, exit the conversation by simply saying "It was nice to speak with you all. May I have your cards/emails? I need to see a few more people today/tonight, but we should get in touch." Then:

  • As soon as possible, write down something that you remember from the conversation.
  • Within two days, make contact and mention what you remember. If you meet many people, prioritize and contact the individuals you deem most likely to be helpful. Contact the rest at a later time.
  • Keep in contact with important people. Don't let them zforget about you.
There are five primary networking opportunities scheduled for AIO 2014 attendees. Go and make the most of them.
  1. Technical panel: Next Challenges in Lighting and Laser Sources. Monday 14 July, 15:30 – 16:00.
  2. Congress reception: Monday, 14 July. 19:00- 20:30 Your chance to really network!
  3. Technical panel: QCL Commercial Challenges. Wednesday, July 16, 12:00 – 12:30pm.
  4. Social panel: Careers in Optics. Topics pertinent to an optics career.
  5. Social panel: Bring Us Your Problems. Participants brainstorm solutions for process measurement, overcoming design hurdles, etc. This is the perfect opportunity to bring your questions to optics professionals.


In my last post, I wrote about Google Glass as it takes its place at the cutting edge of optically-enabled, networked mobile devices. Even with the vast array of internet devices at our disposal, it takes effort and forethought to connect. While the research world increasingly embraces social networking – webinars, digital content, LinkedIn groups, etc – there’s no better way to network with your peers than meeting face-to-face to exchange ideas at a conference. AIO 2014 has opportunities for this this in spades. Have your business cards ready!

 Schmooze cartoon



Posted: 16 June 2014 by Arlene Smith, Ph.D. | with 0 comments

The views expressed by guest contributors to the Discover OSA Blog are not those endorsed by The Optical Society.


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