Build your professional profile

An introduction to networking, building your research and professional profile and tips on how you can gain confidence.

You already have a network. This could include other research students, research staff in your department, your supervisor, your friends and their families, your family and your employer. Building on this so your network extends into areas of professional interest whether that be academic research or something else is the next step. 

Why is networking important? 

  • Networking is all about showing an interest in what people do (it’s not about asking someone for a job!).  It’s a great way to get a sense of what interests you and what you might be suited to by finding out about different job roles, getting insight into companies in sectors of potential interest or connecting with other researchers in your discipline. 

  • Networking should be reciprocal so you can make contacts who might be able to help you and in turn you can help others.  

  • Talking to people in this way is also part of building your research and academic profile – and, if you’re interested in an academic career, this is essential. Professional, well-informed conversations where your interest clearly comes through will make a good impression.

  • You may find out about unadvertised jobs. 

How can you develop in this area? 

  • You can network face to face, at meetings, events and conferences, and online through platforms such as LinkedIn, Platform One and Twitter (Twitter is particularly useful for sharing research interests). Academic online networks such as Researchgate and are worth exploring if you want to pursue an academic career. Set up your profile on relevant platforms as the first step.

  • Practise your networking at seminars, conferences, alumni events, employer events and careers fairs, and look for more opportunities outside University. 

  • Before you go to (or join online) networking events, take the time to do some preparation. Research the people who will be there, decide who you most want to talk to and prepare some questions to ask them. 

  • Practise your “elevator pitch” (a short summary of what you have to offer or what interests you – like a sales pitch) to make a confident start when you meet new people. 

Where to find out more 

Developing networks and forums (Institute for Academic Development) 

Using social media (includes tips on how to use LinkedIn, and how to keep your online presence up to scratch by managing your digital footprint) 

Using social media to find out and stand out  

Informational interviews  

Interview introductions: how to perfect your personal pitch (TargetJobs)

You’ll need your University of Edinburgh login to access these resources: 

Overcoming your fear of networking  

The 60 second sales pitch  

Making a positive first impression