With events going digital, professional training has become increasingly convenient and accessible. While getting the latest scientific research developments from the comfort of your home has never been so easy, sitting alone in front of a screen significantly diminishes the chances of meeting new people and collaborators – a benefit of on-site meetings that is considered one of their most important assets.
Most meeting organisers realise that and offer various networking opportunities and socialising incentives as part of the programme. One of the methods we have implemented to facilitate social interaction at our onsite as well as virtual conferences is the so-called speed networking – a networking session where people swap conversational partners every 5 minutes with the aim to meet as many people as possible and exchange information about their research or the project they are currently working on. The session is normally scheduled for the first day of the conference so that participants can later go back to the people they have met during the speed networking session and continue the discussion.
What should you talk about during the speed networking?
5 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, so it is important that you focus on the essentials. Start by introducing yourself then go into more detail. Are you looking for collaborators? Or maybe a new job or a postdoc position?
How can you do that in just 5 minutes?
Prepare a 20 second blurb about yourself
Keep aware of the time factor – there should be a countdown on your screen
Stick to the vitals
Make sure to take notes next to their name so that you can later go back to them for reference
Most importantly, have fun and relax! 🙂
What if you don’t finish your conversation within the allocated time slot?
Before the time is up, make sure you suggest the next step
Message them directly on the available discussion platform with a suggestion for a follow-up meeting
After the meeting, be sure to e-mail them with a suggestion for further exchange.
Meet Estefanía Lozano-Andrés, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhD Candidate at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. We first met Estefanía in 2016 when she was a participant at the EMBL Course “Extracellular Vesicles: from Biology to Biomedical Applications” and she is back as a trainer at this year’s course.
What is your research focus, and what challenges is the field facing?
My main research interest is the study of Extracellular Vesicles (EVs), which are nano-sized membrane-enclosed particles released by cells. EVs contain selected proteins, lipids and nucleic acids that reflect the status and origin of cells, making them very attractive for biomarker profiling. However, their small size hampers robust detection of single EVs, so more sensitive technology needs to be developed to truly exploit the potential of EVs. Particularly, I am interested in the use of flow cytometry to analyse EVs in a high-throughput and multiparametric manner, but there are quite some challenges to overcome like the optimisation of EV-labelling strategies, the development of reference materials and the standardisation of measurements.
You attended the EMBL Course on Extracellular Vesicles 3 years ago and now you are one of the trainers in this year’s course. How has the course influenced your career?
The course had a great impact on my scientific career. When I was selected to attend the course, I was at an early stage of my PhD and it helped me to develop as a scientist and to have a more critical eye. Thanks to the course I met many leading researchers in the field and it’s probably one of the reasons why I am currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher within the TRAIN-EV Consortium, which brings together leading European scientists working on EVs (grant agreement No 722148). I was thrilled to know that this year I could attend the course as a trainer to help all the participants during the practical sessions and to shed some light on the use of flow cytometry for EV analysis.
What is your number one tip for people looking for scientific training?
Don’t be afraid to engage with people, it can really help you to find out about great training opportunities that could further improve your career. And always try to make the most out of any given moment.
If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be?
A multifaceted artist, I love creating things. Painting, writing and photography make me very happy. Fun fact: when I was a child I wanted to be a professional gift wrapper.
If you were a superhero what power would you have?
Teleportation, I would really enjoy to travel across space (and time).