2016 saw the launch of a new line of activity within the Innovation Workshop series. “Building bridges in your network” aims to give members of the IRB Barcelona Community, tools to help them expand their network of professional contacts in the biomedical sector while working at IRB Barcelona. The first installment of the course held on 8 March was attended by 20 people including two IRB Barcelona alumni. It was dedicated to the fundamentals of networking and was led by Tiago Botelho, Industrial Liaison Officer.
The idea of this series is to help strengthen the soft skills that young researchers will have to use during the course of the careers, within or outside academia.
“We want to provide useful tools to scientists, new contact opportunities and experiences that they can employ in the future steps of their careers,” explains Technology Transfer Officer Alba Olivares, who is responsible for the Innovation Workshop series.
These networking activities will be offered about 4 times a year, and complement the training offered by the Innovation Department, which includes sessions that provide specific tools for future scientific entrepreneurs, with seminars on collaborative drug discovery, entrepreneurial venture, or business development in biotechnology. “The backbone of our training,” says Alba, “rests upon four axes. Technology transfer, that is, how to get from the bench to the market; entrepreneurship & business development; value proposition, or the path from idea to product; innovation, or out-of-the-box thinking.”
Tiago explains that, “networking is a typical soft skill that you will use in many different fields, such as science or entrepreneurship. In our interactions with scientists, we realized that this was an unmet need that we could help out with.”
The class gave participants an overview with some practical tips – some of them as simple as as how to choose your outfit before going to a conference where you will meet people, or what’s the best way to introduce yourself – and a general explanation of why it is so important to invest time and energy to take care of your network of contacts.
“I have three favorite tips,” says Tiago. “Be yourself – very important. You should never pretend to be different from who you are - it normally doesn't work. I also strongly believe in preparation: when you go to a conference, ask yourself why you are going, what are your goals, and what you want to say or sell. Finally, an important – yet often neglected – step of networking is follow-up. Take time to send an email, call or connect on LinkedIn with your new contacts. This helps to consolidate your network,” he concludes.
Regarding LinkedIn, Alba admits that several scientists have expressed interest in how to make the best use of this important social networking site. “We plan to offer a workshop on this soon. Stay tuned and sign up for future seminars!”, she says.