social media

#STEMSaturdays: How to Market Yourself


You may be doing fantastic things in your field, but it won’t help your career advance (which leads to better funding) is nobody knows that you exist. This is where marketing yourself becomes key. But before you start dialing for a publicist, we discuss a number of ways to do this in a cheap way, so put the phone away.




The main goal isn’t to push yourselves to audiences, but to give them reasons to want to continue listening to what you have to say. That means being an influencer who has something interesting to say and that what you have to say is scientifically sound (i.e. don’t make things up - you’ll get caught in the lie and be known for the wrong reason). I don’t know about you, but I want to eventually receive unsolicited calls for guest interview opportunities and collaborations with other influencers I otherwise wouldn’t even know about.




Many people take matters into their own hands and create their own content. It’s easy to do this- you can make videos/podcasts and write blogs from your phone if you choose to. This allows you the opportunity to relay your knowledge through the platform of your choosing.


For me, written word and audio are my strongest suit, which is why I love writing blog posts and doing podcasts. From there, you can easily disseminate your work via social media (we talked about the power of Twitter last #STEMSaturdays) to a new audience. I also share the articles I’ve written on LinkedIn and on my Facebook, allowing my existing friends to like, comment, and share it. If you don’t have your own blog, identify a blog you really like and submit yourself as a guest contributor. This is a great way to build credibility! 


#Protip: Another quick and easy way to give people information about yourself is make a personal website! 


Companies like Weebly and Wix make it easy to create your own website, without every making one before.* My own website is by Weebly and the simplest thing to do! 


On that website, you will want to list your: 


  • Achievements
  • Projects you’re a part of
  • Published works 
  • Interviews you’ve been a part of
  • You Educational background
  • Your contact information
  • Etc.


Consider this a living website that is constantly updating with each new achievement you unlock. 


The internet allows for you to make connections which can blossom into friendships and makes going to professional evens and meeting people so much fun. The internet is not a substitute for meeting in person, but merely a bridge to make and grow connections until you can meet face-to-face. 


A little low-key but useful way to helpful way to step up your leadership skills (and get noticed in the long run) is working with non-profits, schools, community organizations, chambers, and professional organizations in your industry. In these capacities you may be able to host a workshop or webinar- find a free local or online space to do so and promote it throughout your social media marketing channels! One space to keep in mind is, which makes it easy for locals to organize groups and can be a networking powerhouse.


You can continue your reach through media attention. This can be done in a number of ways, like having a reporter write a story about you, your expertise, etc. You can also reach out to journalists from your local and regional news outlets to get you and your work featured. This will require a few cold emails, so check out our tips here


Another way to be featured in the media is by giving a comment or statement regarding a topic. I recently learned about HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which allows you receive emails about stories journalists are currently working on. If your expertise matches up with what a journalist needs, your comments could be featured in the publication! Don’t underestimate what makes something newsworthy, as news sources are always searching for potential content.


There are a number of smart and purposeful ways to authentically market yourself. What ways do you market yourself?


*This article 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

#STEMSaturdays: Using Twitter as a Resource


In the past #STEMSaturdays has showcased how to use the social media platform Twitter and how to live-tweet at conferences (including your own talk). But there is so much more to this platform than just YOU tweeting. I truly do believe that Twitter is an untapped resource goldmine and want to share a few ways I use Twitter outside of my tweets – read on if you want to learn how to harness all that Twitter has to offer!




Twitter is not just for professionals – anyone can use it! That means you will probably interact with many people not  in your field. This means two things: 1) You need to leave the jargon out so everyone can understand what you are tweeting (keep the 140 character limit in mind) and 2) You will come across people’s tweets that you don’t understand! 


While you can be a teacher and discuss [x] with your audience, you can also be the student and learn from those you follow. 


I follow scientists from around the world, both in my discipline and out of it. It’s astounding what I learn in my discipline and mind boggling what I learn from scientists who are in a different field. I recently learned about how cool dung beetles are, how spiders react to different lights, and have witnessed the discovery of many different terrestrial animals! 


I tend to follow conference hashtags on Twitter too, so even though I’m not physically there, I can still learn about what is being said! In fact, I often end up learning about when conferences are to be held via this platform, allowing me to work my scheduling around them. This is how I stay up-to-date with the newest discoveries and papers, while many use the platform to keep up with the Kardashians. 


Speaking of papers, Twitter allows scientists to share their latest research through tweets or tweet threads—including their publications! A great way to make sure a wider audience is exposed to your discipline is by chatting about what you discovered in a tweet (protip: add a picture in your tweet). I love seeing what people in my field have been up to through this and allows you to send a “Congratulations!” for a job well done.




Twitter can not only allow you to disperse ideas to a large and diverse audience, but you can receive feedback or further information from said interactions. This includes networking! 


While most networking can happen face-to-face, Twitter has no time-cap on your conversation. This means you can “follow” a person for however long you want and continue to have multiple chats via the medium—essentially, you’re networking! Fun fact: This is how I know most of my colleagues! Most conferences now have a blank space in your name tag where you can put your twitter handle and it’s refreshing to see many familiar handles instead of just strangers. One conference I attended last September I had everyone I met say, “Oh! So YOU’RE @mcmsharksxx. You’re that Melissa.” It was pretty cool having people recognize my name- even if it was just because I was live tweeting the conference like mad. 


There are pros and cons to using the platform as a networking site. Many people toe the line of being solely a professional entity and also showing their personality… which can include a few profanities and funny pictures! Remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet forever. Make sure you think before you tweet- do you want future employers to see that? 


For myself, I tweet a lot about my specialty: sharks! But I am also known to showcase selfies, talk about my latest cooking endeavors, discuss politics, feminism, and more. This shows my followers that although I’m a scientist, I’m a human with diverse interests first and foremost. 


Twitter is the way most people I interact with know me from- and I make sure the impression I leave is a good one (though I apologize for spamming people with ice hockey team rants). 




Ever started a search (either for funding, internships, jobs, etc) and gotten completely overwhelmed? Me too! Twitter has helped alleviate some of that anxiety by allowing me to follow key organizations or people and be on the look-out for updates. 


From experience, the science community is great at retweeting opportunities up for grabs—from scholarships to fellowships to graduate school positions, they tend to advertise everything! I have a few colleagues who have gotten job positions from learning about them via Twitter, and I was made aware of great opportunities like TEDxWellington (see my talk here) through this platform. Be strategic in who you follow, especially because it can open the doors for you in more ways than one.


What are some ways you use Twitter in your career?


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: Cold Emails - What They Are and How to Write Them


In the ideal world, we would know everybody in our industry. This isn’t an ideal world, however, and sometimes you’ll want to reach out to people who you have no mutual connections with. This process of reaching out is called either “cold emailing” or “cold calling” depending if you choose to communicate via email or phone. We’ll be talking about a cold email is and why you need to perfect yours today in this #STEMSaturdays post.


First, a definition: cold emails are basically where you introduce yourself to someone and sometimes ask them for information. They’re called “cold” because your addressee doesn't know you. The goal? To get it read.


Sometimes your addressee gets hundreds of emails a day. For example, my e-mail address gets anywhere from 50-130 emails a day. Many times I’ll do a quick cursory glance and mass delete things I see as spam, as many others do.


That’s where you need to make your cold email stand out: the subject line. 


Make me want to read your email by writing a catchy subject line. This can either be by the cursory, “Attention: Melissa Marquez” or by something that includes my interests like, “Melissa Marquez- Shark Inquiry.” 


Do your research on the person you are reaching out and find out what their interests, strengths, etc. are. From there, pick a few key words and add them to your subject line and fiddle around with it until you have something cohesive written. For example, here are a few cold email subject lines that caught my attention:


“Melissa- loved you on Femmes of STEM… can I ask you a Q?”

“Sharks: a Q&A”

“Melissa- Guest Writer Opportunity”


On to the body of the email! 


Keep it short, blunt and simple. Very rarely does someone answer back to a five-paragraph long email from a person they don’t know. Your email is ultimately something else they (may) add to their to-do list and shorter emails tend to result in faster response times. 


Here is a sample template:


Dear [name of person you are reaching out],

Hello! [Introduce yourself in 1-2 sentences]

  • [Explain how you know them in 1-2 sentences] 
  • [Explain why you are reaching out to them specifically in 1-2 sentences] 
  • [Close with a question - makes it easy for the reader to respond with answer and increases chances of a response]

[Signing off],

[Your name]


Right off the bat, introduce yourself (here’s a great place to insert your 15-second science pitch), and then make it clear why you are reaching out to that person (i.e. what drew you to them). This will, again, show that you put time, effort and thought into reaching out. 


While these emails tend to be short, it doesn’t mean they can’t be conversational. A tip I was taught and still use to this day is to pretend you are having a conversation with the person face-to-face in public and you just walked up to them and said hi. Now what? And so goes the rest of your email, making it so when you leave the conversation you both want to continue it later. 


So perhaps your conversation (in your head) goes a little something like this:


“Hi David. I’m Melissa. I am a big fan of your shark conservation work and love following you on twitter! I also am on twitter, promoting my program The Fins United Initiative which just happens to focus on shark conservation and education amongst other things…”


This technique has yet to fail me, as it makes the cold email feel much more approachable and warmer. So give cold emailing a try… you’ll be surprised at who you can connect with!


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: Live Tweet Your Own Talk at a Conference!


So you want to live-tweet your own talk at a conference… well good news, you can!


If you want to make sure your audience takes away key information from your talk (or your thesis defense, outreach initiatives, etc.), you can make sure that the facts are coming from your twitter feed as your mouth is relaying the information. How? Well, you won’t be pausing the talk every few seconds to say, “Hold on, let me just tweet that.” Instead, you will be scheduling your tweets ahead of time so they will “air” during the pre-selected time of your talk. 


To my knowledge, there are two main platforms that my peers use: HootSuite and Buffer. I personally use Buffer as it’s free (up to 10 tweets a day- then you have to pay) and it’s easy to learn (I should preface this by saying that I have not had experience with HootSuite).


With Buffer, you can synch a number of your social media outlets to it. This includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and now Instagram (it gives you reminders to post your photo, and does not post your photo for you); there may be a few other platforms I’m missing, but these are the ones I primarily use. 


Step 1. Choose the platform you want to post your talk from. I usually do an “update” on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages telling my audience that I will now be giving a talk on subject x and to refer to my twitter feed (insert twitter handle here) for more information. After my talk I’ll give a quick synopsis again of these two pages.


Step 2. Choose the time zone you are in. My time zone varies; for normal Twitter scheduling, I’ll choose US eastern-time as my zone; for specific conferences, I will choose the time zone I’m in. For example, for my Tasmania conference, I chose the Tasmania time zone and started the first tweet from my allotted talk time start. 


Step 3. You have 10 (free) tweets to work with. Make them count. I usually dedicate one tweet to introducing my topic via presentation title; the rest of my tweets are usually one tweet = one slide. On tweets that have no graphs, charts, etc. on them I will attach a picture of my research animal(s) because everyone likes pictures. Make sure to credit photographer or have copyright on photo.


Step 4. Once you have your 10 tweets, schedule them. If your talk starts at 2:00 pm and is scheduled to end at 2:15 pm, make it so you have one tweet about every minute. 


Step 4a. Time yourself to accurately schedule your tweets! Practice your presentation and see around what time each tweet should roughly go out. The last few minutes I leave blank for questions from the audience.


Step 5. Advertise your talk. Make sure your audience (on Twitter) knows that you will be live tweeting your presentation at  x time so they can be sure to tune in and learn all about your awesome research!


Step 6. Make sure everything is working! Day of the presentation, make sure your scheduling is all set up and that your self live-tweeting can go without a hitch! 


Step 7. Retweet those who have tagged you or your talk. Their perspectives can sometimes shed a new point of view on your dataset! 


And that’s that! Good luck setting up your own live-tweeting.


Author’s Note: This post has not been supported nor sponsored by Buffer or HootSuite. All opinions are my own and without endorsement.


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: Live Tweeting at a Conference


Conferences are a great way to impart a lot of knowledge on those who are attending. Yet, what if you want the greater community to know what you now know? Enter Twitter. With it being easily accessible on phones, tablets, and computers it allows you to share presentations live-time with only one catch: you have to say what you want to say in 140 characters or less.


I’d like to say I’m pretty good at live-tweeting presentations while at conferences. At a recent conference in Tasmania, I was known as “that twitter girl” when I was introduced to new people because the hashtag (we’ll talk about what this is below) was basically just me. Oops. #sorrynotsorry

In my defense, live-tweeting allows me to write down the information shared, serving as notes for me to refer to later on… it just happens to be notes on a public platform so others can learn as well!


Some things of live tweeting just can’t be learned or controlled. For example, I type very fast, allowing me to simultaneously type as the person speaks. Other times the venue doesn’t have internet, or has slow internet, practically eliminating your ability to live-tweet. And maybe it’s neither of those things and some presenters just aren’t comfortable with you live-tweeting their work (which is 100% okay), meaning you should put your phone away and just enjoy the presentation (or take notes via notebook). 


Here are some tricks I have that help me efficiently live-tweet:


  • Learn the hashtag of the conference. Save it to your phone. Whenever you go to a conference nowadays, they usually have a hashtag. A hashtag (#) is used on social media sites (especially Twitter) to identify messages pertaining to a specific topic. For example, if you look up the hashtag #sharks on Twitter, you 95% of the time will see tweets about the animal while the other 5% will be about the NHL team. Once the hashtag of the conference has been learned, use it on EVERY tweet that pertains to the conference- this includes any social functions, talks, tea times where you meet people, poster events, etc. I tend to save it on my phone so I can just “paste” it at the beginning or end of the tweet.


  • Be on the lookout for Twitter users. Some presenters will showcase their twitter handle at the beginning, end, or throughout their presentation. If so, add their username (for example, @mcmsharksxx) to your tweets pertaining to their presentation. Before the presentation starts, try to fit their presentation title in a tweet and who is the presenter (e.g. “Adrienne Cruz is next in room C: “The debate between coffee v tea” #FAKECONF17”). Say I was the one giving the presentation—your tweets should begin or end with “#FAKECONF17 @mcmsharksxx” so not only can you connect with me, but I can retweet (RT) your tweets and people can see that I was the only talking about x topic. If they don’t have a twitter (which does happen), add the last name of the presenter (e.g. “#FAKECONF17 Marquez”) to your tweets. I sometimes include what room of the conference I’m at because it lets people know I’m in a specific area (if they want to meet up) and what the ‘theme’ of the room will be for the time being.


  • Be mindful of those presenters who DO NOT want their presentation live-tweeted. Not everyone is keen on having their presentation –or part of it—aired on Twitter. Please be mindful of that and respect their wishes. Some will declare their presentations as twitter-friendly or not, and may even have “no photos” or “no tweets” signs on key slides that may have raw data and they do not want publicised just yet. If you have live tweeted a presentation and the presenter asks you to delete the tweets, please be respectful of their wishes and take it down immediately.


NO signs.JPG


  • Turn your phone noises down. Nothing more annoying than hearing your keyboard going “tick-tack” the whole time or hearing any other distractions coming from your direction. Be courteous of those presenting and silence your phone so those around you can enjoy the talk as well. On that vein of thought, if you happen to get a phone call during the presentation, excuse yourself and leave the room to take it. 


  • Make sure you are connected to WiFi (if available). Twitter takes up a lot of data. See if your conference venue has WiFi (usually conferences will tell you this ahead of time) and then find out the password. This is especially important if you are abroad—roaming charges are quite awful (and expensive). 


  • Make sure you have an extra battery. Twitter also takes up quite a bit of your battery power. I have a portable battery that I charge every night so that I can use it all up when I’m in a pinch. I always bring two charging cords (you never know when one might go missing) as well as a wall charger in case there are any working outlets (it helps preserve my portable battery’s power, too). These can be relatively cheap and found easily enough on Amazon or your local electronic store.  


  • Know the ways to conserve your phone/device battery. Every phone is different, so my tips may not work for you. However, putting my brightness level at its lowest setting, on night mode and with no other applications running in the background helps my battery last a wee bit longer. My phone also allows me to put it in “low battery mode” which “temporarily reduces power consumption… mail fetch, Hey Siri, background app refresh, automatic downloads and some visual effects are reduced or turned off.” My battery also allows me to see percentage so I know when to start to charge again. There’s also the option of not tweeting as much—and for some topics that I don’t feel qualified to speak on, or quote the person on, I don’t tweet. 


  • Reduce the jargon. You’ve got 140 characters to work with, and some of those are dedicated to the hashtag and the presenter’s last name or Twitter handle. Your followers may all not be ‘experts’ in this area, either, so make it easy enough so people of all background can understand. If there is jargon that cannot be avoided, define it to the best of your ability.


  • Take pictures of the slides. This is not always recommended (see “Be mindful of those presenters who DO NOT want their presentation live-tweeted” tip) but proves useful when taking pictures of diagrams, photos of set ups, graphs, etc. For those who have a hard time seeing images, make sure you describe the picture so they are not left out. Again, always make sure that taking pictures of the slides is okay with the presenter.


  • Live-tweet your own presentation. Want to make sure your audience has specific information as a take-away message? Tweet your own presentation! Presenters now have the opportunity to live-tweet their own talk—we’ll discuss this in the next #STEMSaturdays post.


And that’s that! Hopefully you can put these live-tweeting tips to good use in your next conference.


Do you live tweet at conferences? Do you find it useful?


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: LinkedIn Decoded: What it is and How to Curate a Strong Profile


Chances are that you’ve been Googled. If not by yourself (admit it, we’ve all done it), then by job recruiters. Is what they’re seeing what you want your first professional impression to be?


LinkedIn profiles tend appear high on Google searches (mine was #2 when searching my name). It’s a way to market your unique, personal brand, while showing off your achievements, skills, and experience. It’s not only the place recruiters look to for headhunting, but it’s a great networking tool to have as a young scientist trying to expand their network. Not to mention it allows you to share your latest research, publications, and stances on matters of importance with your connections.


By engaging in conversation with your network — and joining “Groups” where similar-minded people discuss topics — LinkedIn has become another place of learning, allowing for you to be on the forefront of knowledge in your respective industry.


In order to get the most of out this, you need to have a strong profile set up. Whether you are actively looking for a job or not, making sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and regularly used is vital to helping you make a memorable first impression. These tips will help take your profile to the next level.




Have you ever had that friend who posts way too many things on Facebook?  Don’t be that friend. While you revamp your online profile, turn off your activity broadcasts so you don’t become that friend. You can do this by going to Settings >  Privacy Controls > Turn on/off your activity broadcasts. Don’t forget to turn it back on once you are done so your network can be aware of any new developments in your career (e.g. new job, new project, looking for employment).




When you sign up with LinkedIn, you are automatically given a profile URL consisting of letters and numbers. You can customize your profile URL by going to Settings > Edit Public Profile > Customize Your Public Profile URL. You want yours to be a URL that is easy to share. For example, mine consists of my initials + my program’s name.


Next is tackling your profile picture. This may be the first time a person is seeing your face, so you want to make a good impression! Treat this picture as a headshot: you want to come off as approachable, confident, and mature. In my profile picture, I have natural looking makeup, simple jewelry, my hair is straightened and neat, and I’m wearing my best accessory: a smile!


While some people say you should get a professional photographer to take this headshot photo, the same can be achieved with having a friend volunteer to take this picture or even a self-timed camera.



good linked in photo.JPG




bad linked in photo.JPG


LinkedIn now has “header photos,” similar to a cover photo on Facebook. My photo is usually ocean-themed (relevant to my industry) and I try to keep it simple. The focus should be on you and your accomplishments, not the header photo.


When it comes to personalization, many people don’t think that you can edit the byline (the line directly underneath your name) but you can! LinkedIn automatically fills it in with your most recent job is, but it can be changed to how you want to market yourself. Mine reads, “Founder of The Fins United Initiative” while a friend’s reads, “A political science and historian major with strong organizational, leadership, and interpersonal skills.” Changing your byline can be useful when searching for new opportunities, by adding keywords to ensure that your profile will be found by your intended audience. Keywords in this instance means focusing on job titles, skills, programs you know, etc.




When writing your summary, try to keep it under 300 words; it should be written in first person and should be conversational in tone. You’ll want to keep your target audience in mind when writing this and, when writing, ask yourself what you want them to learn about you.




Some discuss accomplishments (stats and figures), while others talk about their professional interests. I like to keep mine short and to the point, so my summary reads as such: My educational and professional career paths are based on the behaviour, ecology and conservation of Chondrichthyans (sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras). My future goals are to ensure the conservation of elasmobranch fishes through open communication, reliable data/research, sustainable fisheries and community outreach. Special interests: GIS, underwater photography, satellite tagging, shark movements, behaviour, sustainable fisheries.




There are some sections of LinkedIn that you’ll want to expand upon more than others. These sections are “Awards” and “Experiences,” since your resume usually has you condense these areas. Experiences aren’t just limited to what put money in your bank, but includes internships or volunteering. There is a also a specific section for “Projects,” where you can talk in length about any committees you led, student projects you were a part of/completed, or your thesis!


The “Skills” section allows your connections to endorse you for specific qualifications (of their choosing). For reference, some of the skills listed in my section include “ecology,” “conservation issues,” “data analysis,” “public speaking,” “scuba diving,” “research,” and “GIS.” These skills happen to be keywords pertinent to my industry, and allow potential employers to find my profile when they look up certain words.


Protip: Don’t forget to endorse your friends, too!


You won’t want to talk continuously about your education. Put your degree, the years you attended, your university’s name, and any other relevant information. I included a small blurb about my time at each university (no more than two paragraphs). LinkedIn gives you the option of listing the classes you took, but I found most people don’t care about classes unless they are unique.


For languages, just write your level of proficiency and leave it at that. If an employer wants to know more, they’ll ask. Also, cut down on the talk about your non-industry related volunteering/causes. While it’s admirable if you volunteer at a soup kitchen, animal shelter or building houses, it doesn’t need to be talked about at length on your LinkedIn profile.




You can either search for your friends, family, and colleges by name on LinkedIn to start making connections or you can let it happen organically (e.g. someone asks for your contact info). Once you start making connections, you’ll be able to see their network and be able to reach out to anyone you would like to start a conversation with. This has allowed me to connect with others in my industry I wouldn’t otherwise have known!


Beware; LinkedIn does have a limit to how many people you reach out to that you don’t personally know so perhaps get a mutual connection to make an introduction.


I advertise my LinkedIn by tweeting out my profile link various times throughout the month, adding it my LinkedIn profile link to my e-mail signature, and having the LinkedIn icon on my business card. Once you have your LinkedIn updated, you’ll want to make sure your other personal brand tools (your pitch, your resume/CV, your cover letter) are top-notch as well.


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