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How do you stay in touch with researchers whom you meet at conferences? My intention is to stay in touch for possible collaborations and job opportunities.

Usually I meet people, we talk and I send them a "thank you" mail but later I get confused how to take this forward and maintain this contact.

I do send links, my preprints and interesting website questions and stuff once in a while but more often than not, I don't get a reply.

  • Related question: academia.stackexchange.com/q/271/102 – user102 Jul 5 '12 at 11:13
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    It's worth noting that this skill is not specific to Academia. Any discussion on how to network successfully will contain tips and ideas that will be directly applicable to your question. – eykanal Jul 5 '12 at 12:28
  • @eykanal I don't agree. Networking in other areas is following LinkedIn, the concept of following the other persons work is nonexistent. – user107 Jul 5 '12 at 12:50
  • @Inquest - I strongly disagree, but this is slightly off-topic... lets take this to chat for any further discussion. – eykanal Jul 5 '12 at 14:37
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    academia is a little different in that you have to almost hide your networking efforts otherwise it starts seeming pushy. Not saying that this is fair or unfair, but it is the culture – Suresh Jul 5 '12 at 17:32
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To build and maintain a network of professional relationships, one should develop, maintain, and express genuine interest in other people and their work. Introducing oneself at conferences is a good start, as is recording and updating contact information, and setting up a system to remind yourself to reach out to people regularly. (There are various tools for this, ranging from a spreadsheet, to social network services, to CRM software. If you use gmail, you may want to try "contactually" for the mechanical part. )

Sending your contacts updates on your work is useful. And these should be targeted... it's ok to use a broadcast medium like twitter to announce new work to the world, but avoid sending out mass-email -- instead target those people who are likely to be most interested, and include a brief personal note that puts the new work in the context of their interests.

Most important, keep track of what others in your network are doing -- new publications, new projects, working papers, promotions, etc. (Social networks can be useful for this in some fields for tracking people directly, tracking working papers in your discipline, and disciplinary news can be quite useful, google scholar can also help alert you to new publications from people in your network. ) And when someone in your network is starting something of interest, re-connect -- with congratulations, a useful comment, and possibly some information on your own work (if it really is of interest with respect to their new project).

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Maybe this is obvious, but never forget to wrap your networking cover ops in real social ops. In a conference, go talk to people, than go drink a coffee, beer, discuss with them about anything but work at the lunch, etc. If you do that, it is really simpler to send a thank you mail and to reactivate a contact afterwards.

Regarding the action of sending your work around, why not, but you must target carefully who you are contacting. Be sure that your work is really of interest for the person, this is what will make the difference between a spammer and an interesting contact.

Another way to ping is to ask genuine questions on new papers authored by your contacts.

  • Can you expand on reactivating contacts? – user107 Jul 5 '12 at 12:51
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    @Inquest, "Hi, I'm in town, want to grab coffee?" – bobthejoe Jul 6 '12 at 17:40

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