It’s not as bad as it seems! Practical tips for networking when networking isn’t your thing.
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions about academic life is that you won’t have to interact with people. For the socially-compromised or socially-eschewing this sounds like a haven; you get to do your work, no one bothers you, and you don’t have to deal with any other people that you don’t want to deal with. From the first day of grad school, you know that this is a lie. A bald-faced lie that is Vin Diesel levels of baldness. At no times can this be more apparent than a professional gathering such as a conference or a workshop. You are thrust into a building with people that may number from the 10’s to the 1000’s, for several days. You know very few of these people, although you may have seen their faces many times before. You are expected to be on your “A” game the entire time. You are forced to wear pants. For introverts, the socially awkward, and people who hate pants, this is pretty much hell on earth. But not only is it a necessary evil, it is also something that can be very beneficial for networking. Given that SRCD is coming up, and I know many SRA emerging scholars attend SRCD, I figured this post would be appropriate. I will say that this has been discussed previously, but I wanted to touch on some things I felt were incredibly important to me as someone who is, by nature, both socially awkward and introverted.