Organization and Management Theory (OMT)

“Sorry, I need to jump on another call…”: How to sustain and extend your network beyond virtual conferences

By Lorenzo Skade posted 27 days ago

  

Amid the pandemic, conferences have gone virtual, and a lot of informal interaction has disappeared. Consequently, I have thought about alternative ways to meet with old and new colleagues and friends, to get feedback on my research, and to take full advantage of these increasingly digital opportunities. In this blog post, I would like to share some of my personal experiences with you and hope that you find them helpful in navigating this new virtual world. Here are five tips:

  • Create your own research discussion sessions. Soon after learning that in-person events had to be canceled, my colleagues and I established our own research discussion sessions. We set up virtual sessions throughout the semester, each with a 90-minute timeframe, to critically discuss and improve each other’s work. In the end, it turned out to be much more than a research session: a vivid opportunity to also talk about each other’s lives and other news. Initiating these meetings helped me to keep in touch with my network and to develop an exciting opportunity to discuss emerging research ideas. After the success of our meetings this past year, we are continuing our sessions during this winter term.
  • Engage in the networking opportunities of the AoM divisions. Besides switching to a virtual format for the AoM and offering a virtual program, many divisions and interest groups went out of their way to create new amazing networking possibilities. For example, OMT has set up OMT MeetUps, during which PhD students can discuss their research and their career with senior scholars (for more information on how to participate, please reach out to Emily Block at eblock@ualberta.ca). Such initiatives were exceptional opportunities to extend my own network.
  • Engage in your division and create content that is interesting to you and others. Besides participating in virtual events, another tip to get engaged is to create digital content that you and others may find interesting, and to use this opportunity to connect with new people. For example, you can write a blogpost for the OMT division (like this one) to share your experiences with others. You can also create a vlog (video blog). I did so to meet Paula Jarzabkowski, a Fellow of the Academy, and to discuss one of her papers with her—the paper that inspired me to pursue a PhD in the first place. It was a fantastic chance to engage with a senior scholar and to learn something about the backstory of her academic work.
  • Reach out to people after conference sessions. You can also reach out to people directly. During the previous year, I have learned that people are very thankful if you provide them with feedback and engage with them beyond their paper presentations, such as during an AoM “birds of a feather” session, via email, or via Twitter after a conference. For me, this was very helpful in continuing my conversations with others on a one-on-one basis, especially with other early-career researchers. Everyone I talked to appreciated receiving some additional comments on their work and having some virtual exchange.
  • Engage in informal meetings to discuss things beyond research. While it is great to stay in touch with others to talk about research, I feel that it is equally important to have informal meetings to discuss things beyond your research. For example, I initiated fun, informal digital lunches with my colleagues. Furthermore, we established a small reading circle where we read and discussed articles, which we found interesting even though they did not directly connect to any of our research. Informal business lunches with practitioners also provide another opportunity to discuss things beyond research, where you can continue your conversations with members of the field even while working from home.

I hope my personal experiences from the past months help you as we move forward into the coming year, the upcoming 2021 virtual AoM Annual Meeting, and a world of other exciting virtual events. Please feel free to reach out to me in case you have any questions and feel free to connect via Twitter (@LorenzoSkade) or email (skade@europa-uni.de) to talk about research, networking, or any other topics. I am very looking forward to hearing from you.

Lorenzo Skade

Research Associate
European University Viadrina

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