By Parmit Kumar Singh, PhD
Science is global. Advertising your science online can increase your connectivity with other people working in the same field around the world and help you learn about the job market to, hopefully, find your dream job. Researchers need to increase skills not only at bench work, but also in networking and branding themselves to the online scientific community. The online networking site LinkedIn can do just that.
The “21st Century Networking: LinkedIn and Beyond” workshop, led by Scott Morgan on July 25, 2013, taught us that branding yourself and your science is very important for being a successful scientist. The talk was divided into four phases: LinkedIn, “speed dating,” the three-minute thesis, and negotiation. In this article, I will highlight a few key points from each section.
In this session, we discussed how to make a good profile on LinkedIn. What should we write, and what should we avoid? The rule of thumb is to think about your dream job before writing anything. Since there is a word limitation for your title, you should use a noun that best describes your overall experience, such as retro-virologist, enzymologist, or protein-biochemist. Avoid using very broad field titles like biochemist or developmental biologist. In contrast, do not use the name of your model organism—like Drosophila geneticist—and avoid pronouns and verbs. Finally, Scott Morgan cautioned against highlighting technical skills, like spectroscopy, in your title unless you are interested in a technical position.
We also learned about a new feature on LinkedIn where you can attach a power point presentation with your work. If you haven’t already, using this feature is a good a way to promote your research.
During the speed dating portion, people interacted with three to four people for three minutes each and asked about work, family, and hobbies. The theme of this exercise was to find two common interests using a top-to-bottom approach. For example, if two people have reading as a hobby, this approach encouraged us to find out what kind of reading material we have in common or whether we read the same author or not. This approach should be followed in our professional interactions also to find common interests among people.
The three-minute thesis is a competition hosted by the organization EURAXESS where researchers can present their work in three-minute videos. The video can then be uploaded to the EURAXESS LinkedIn page. For more information on this new three-minute thesis competition, please visit http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/data/links/usa/docs/Science_Slam_NA_2013.pdf.
Your online networking is successful, and you get offered a position! Now you must negotiate favorable terms. There is always a way to postpone the decision, like by mentioning “I will let you know after consulting my family.” It is good to think about the big picture before joining any institute. For example, a scientist working on mouse models will prefer an institute that hosts a good facility for mice.
Overall, this workshop presented the importance of branding your science. LinkedIn is just one way to do so, but other resources, like YouTube videos, are good too. The important point—whether you are presenting at a conference or by video, are interviewing or writing a LinkedIn summary—is that you have to be concise, to the point, and always use words that are specific to your dream job or interest. Don’t forget, it is essential to keep others’ time and a word limit in mind before writing anything, and use interactions to find out the common interest between two people. Follow this advice, and you will be on your way to successfully branding yourself and your science online.