Several weeks ago our group of Top 500 Innovators Alumni conducted a little reunion. It has been six years since our group of forty researchers and technology transfer experts was sent to California to study scientific management and commercialisation at Stanford University. It was an amazing experience, and we gained a lot of practical skills there. I mentioned a few in this post.
The more I think about it, the more I see that the most important result of our stay in the USA is the network that we formed. Six years have passed. We all got older (hopefully wiser) and many of the bonds that we developed in Palo Alto are still strong. Our little reunion in Poznan felt like family gathering during Christmas!
Academics are a very interesting tribe. Entrepreneurs value networking as an important skill and tool. By comparison, academics are (on average) shy, quiet, introverted, and prefer to schmooze with other academics from similar fields of expertise. Contrary to entrepreneurs, scientists often need to be convinced that reaching towards a wider audience offers some value.
The truth is: networking as a scientist is neither simple nor easy. The language of science is not exactly inclusive and demands a lot from listeners. Journal articles are not that easy to read and understand. Keynote speeches at conferences are often difficult to comprehend (still easier than papers). Unfortunately, innovation and modern scientific development thrives on interdisciplinary networks that reach beyond the twisted corridors of the ivory tower.
We must learn how to network, network extensively, and most importantly network effectively. The best institutionalised examples of networks are the COST Actions, but there is a tactic suitable for everyone. The books and experts always advise to keep in touch with peers. All the time, not only when they are needed for something. Sounds like an introvert’s worst nightmare, but is it really that hard to pay a visit from time to time, eat lunch, or just make a call? For those who need some encouragement, there are also networking events…
Perhaps this is why I am so excited about the next Top 500 Innovators’ Meet-Up that will take place in May 2019 in Wroclaw. It will not only be an occasion to see all those friendly faces, but also and opportunity to strengthen and expand our network.
With a group of friends we are about to form the organising committee and create the framework for a two-days event aimed at researchers, entrepreneurs, and technology transfer experts. You don’t have to be the member of the Top 500 Innovators Alumni in order to participate and benefit from keynotes, workshops, and dinner table discussions. With a bit of luck some new unexpected areas for collaboration might emerge.
Save the date May 9-10th, 2019 and stay tuned. We will let you know more soon!