Group networking day reveals prospective collaborations

Image: Shutterstock/MaximP
Image: Shutterstock/MaximP

Last month the IOP held a networking event for all the IOP groups to have a chance to get together, get to know each other and the work the respective groups were doing, and, hopefully, to foster cross-collaboration between us.

One or two committee members from each group duly attended, and as I currently sit on the committees of the High Energy Particle Physics Group and the Particle Accelerator and Beams Group, I found myself attending on behalf of both. Now I know that many of us have attended so many networking events that the mere thought of another finger sandwich brings us out in cold sweats, but this was, dare I say it, an incredibly useful event.

Before the day we were requested to think of other groups we could potentially see ourselves collaborating with, and also to prepare a two-minute presentation on the work of our group. So the first plus was not too much prep work. On the day – and after a short caffeine fix – we were seated to accommodate those preferences regarding groups of interest to us. Then followed the welcome and aims-of-the-day talk, before we were invited to stand in turn and present on our group.

By halfway through these talks it had become clear that the potential for collaboration and joint areas of interest were far greater than we had originally thought. I was quickly jotting down groups and ideas as we went through, and saw many others doing the same. At the end of this part of the day I had a list of many people I wanted to find time to talk to and was quietly noting their position in the room.

Over lunch I was approached by two groups who were not on my list of those that I’d previously planned to talk to, showing that other groups were doing the same as me and that there was in fact even more potential than I had realised.

The final part was networking proper, and the aim was for us to talk with those seated around us. We just continued on from lunch working our way around those on our lists and completely ignoring the organised structure of the seats. That said, I think the plan was sound – I mean, it was the first event of its kind and if we had not all been excitedly chatting it would have been useful to have a structure.

For my groups the day revealed the potential for six new joint half- or one-day meetings, cross-collaboration with two new groups each, and at least one crossover committee member. So, all in all, I think it was pretty successful. Since then the emails have been flying around and we are getting very close to making most of all our exciting new contacts and events.

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Melissa Uchida

Melissa Uchida

Dr Melissa Uchida is a research associate at Imperial College London
Melissa Uchida

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