#STEMSaturdays: Speed Networking


Networking is one of the most productive things a person can do to help out their career (besides, you know, putting lots of work and studying into your craft). Building a diverse, yet cohesive, group of relationships is vital to tap into for information, advice, opportunities and more while giving the same in return. #STEMSaturdays discusses what networking is at large in a previous post (May 20), how networking is not always done in a conference setting (June 3) and what’s the ONE THING you should ALWAYS bring with you when networking (May 6). Today, we’ll be covering another type of networking that is starting to become popular: speed networking.


While you might not have heard of speed networking, you may have hear of speed dating. Speed networking operates on a similar idea: a structured and fast paced event that allows people to interact one at a time for a short amount of time (usually a minute or two) and then leaves it up to participants who they want to provide their contact information to. In speed dating, when sparks fly it usually leads to a date while in speed networking, it usually leads to some networking opportunities. 


Many see pros and cons to this type of networking. While you will get to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time, you don’t get to delve into much of a deep conversation given the time constraints. Typically, these events have a “round robin” format, which is where the leader of the event will alert that you time has begun/ended by some sort of noise (think buzzer, whistle, bell, gong, etc.). To begin, one of you (or both) will introduce yourself, why you’ve come, and perhaps exchange business cards right off the bat. From there, you start to ask questions of each other to see if you really want to get to know this person more after that buzzer goes off. Once the time is up, you move on to the next person and so on and so forth until the event is over.


These types of events can last anywhere from one hour to two (usually no longer as one’s voice can go quickly after talking so much), and usually ends with some time to openly network (i.e. without a buzzer) so you can either reconnect with interesting people or talk to individuals you weren’t paired up with. 




Remember that science pitch! You’ll want to have that statement polished for events just like this. Make sure it includes your name, your occupation (or degree), your field of interest, and why you are here (are you looking for exchange of information, jobs, internships, etc?). For example, my quick introduction would go something along the lines of: 


“Hi, my name is Melissa Marquez, a marine biologist based out of Wellington, New Zealand who focuses on sharks and their relatives. My interests include studying habitat use further in these animals, and I’m looking for PhD or job opportunities that allow such research. I’m also open to marine biology jobs that focus on science communication, outreach and education.”


Done in sixty seconds and is straight to the point. 


Remember those business cards! Bring them. A lot of them. You won’t have an idea of how many people you’ll meet, so I usually bring 50 just in case. How do I carry so many? I have a small purse dedicated to just business cards, so I don’t forget! Some event coordinators will suggest a number depending RSVP count, so keep an eye on that!


Bring a few copies of your resume. Some people will ask you if you have a resume or CV with you. I bring 10 copies and keep them in a folder that I keep in my purse for just these occasions. It’ll be impressive to see how prepared you are!


Be prepared. That means you’ll want to bring a writing utensil (pen is best as it doesn’t smudge as easily), notepad, and a small planner so you can pencil in a meet-up date if necessary. Dress to impress by checking the dress code; these events are usually business or business casual, but if no guidelines are given ask the organisers! 


Don’t forget to follow up with those you want to connect with within a day or two; this can be either via e-mail or a phone call, whatever you feel more comfortable with!  


These types of events are starting to crop up at conferences, universities, clubs and more. See where your nearest event is and show up—after all, practice makes perfect! Good luck!


About the Author:

Melissa C Marquez is a marine biologist and science communicator based in New Zealand. She is the founder of the Fins United Initiative.  You can find her twitter here, and support her on Patreon here

#STEMSaturdays: Networking During Happy Hour


Networking comes in many forms—from coffee shops to conference halls—so is it any surprise that one can often network during a happy hour mixer?


“Alcohol” and “professionalism” can co-exist, and in this post we help you navigate these sometimes tricky networking events.


We start with a disclaimer: we do not endorse nor condone these types of networking events. If you do not feel comfortable in this environment, do not feel like you have to drink any alcoholic beverages or attend these types of events.


First, before you go to this event, let somebody trustworthy know where you are going and how long you plan to be out. This person can be a family member, significant other, roommate, best friend, etc. If you’re driving, let them know when you’re arriving and leaving the establishment. Make sure you have sobered up before getting behind the wheel— DO NOT drink and drive. Better to be safe and sorry; have someone pick you up or designate a DD (designated driver). None available? Use UberLyft, or a taxi.


Like many others, you may be scratching your head in front of your closet wondering, “What do I wear?”


Remember you are still in “work mode,” as you are attending these events with the intent to network. Feel free to let your hair down a bit, but keep it professional. These are my wardrobe essentials, where I can pick and choose a myriad of casual-ish, yet professional, outfits:



Before attending a mixer event, make sure you have fed yourself!


I usually eat a filling meal, which has two purposes: there’s plenty of food in my stomach which leaves less room for alcohol, and I’m less tempted to spend money.


Unlike a social night with friends, you do not want to pre-game. Instead, drink water before your night out. Once at the event, no harm in buying a bowl or two of hot fries for the group—good for absorbing the alcohol!


During the event, continue to drink water between alcoholic drinks. Hate tasteless H20? Spruce it up with some lemon slices!


Limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks during the event so you do not become impaired in front of colleagues and potential collaborators or and/or employers. Talk about an embarrassing first impression.


If at any moment you don’t feel safe, tell a bartender. Or, have your trustworthy individual on speed dial or a text away. Some people have a safe word they text to their friend (“Red”) or a phrase (“Is Becky okay?”) while others are more direct (“911! Help!”). Whatever you choose, make sure both you and your contact are aware of what the phrases mean.


Do not ever walk home alone at night. If you have no choice, stay on the phone with your contact until you are home safe. I used to call my now-husband and talk to him while walking home in the dark, constantly being vigilant of my surroundings. Stay aware of the people around you and where you are—that means NO HEADPHONES.



(in the US—please chime in with security apps you use worldwide)


  • WATCHME 911: One of the best security apps available for the iPhone. There are four main features: a panic alarm and flashlight, an automatic 911 emergency dial, a panic mode and a monitor me mode. The panic mode will send SMS messages – along with your GPS location – to a predefined contact in your address book so that they can help you.


  • CIRCLE OF 6: The White House has endorsed this security app. Circle of 6 is an app which sends pre-set messages to a circle of 6 people who you have chosen to in an emergency situation. You can customize the message to contain your location or address, and there is even an option to request that the person calls you as soon as they can.


  • GUARDLY: This app allows you to set specific people to call in specific situations. You do have to pay a subscription fee every month of $1.99 if you want to be able to call 911 directly from the app.


  • HOLLABACK!: A security app available on Android and iPhone which will take a photo of anyone who you deem to be harassing you, which it then automatically uploads to a harassment website to warn others of this person in the area.


  • STREETSAFE: Your Facebook account will list your current location so that all of your friends can see it, and SMS and phone messages will be sent to people who you have listed to #contact in an emergency.


*this post is not sponsored


About the Author:

Melissa C Marquez is a marine biologist and science communicator based in New Zealand. She is the founder of the Fins United Initiative.  You can find her twitter here, and support her on Patreon here