Conferences & Networking

Academic conferences can be intimidating to those who have not yet assimilated into the scene, and it can be a huge stress to learn how to talk to senior scientists and researchers in your field. On this page, we'll give you many tips on surviving your first few academic conferences, and some external resources from researchers who have been there.


  • Use your connections. Depending on your advisor, they may be willing to help introduce you to some of the senior scientists they know at the conference. Take advantage of this resource.
  • Don't worry about current research failures. Many students become overwhelmed speaking of their own research if everything isn't going perfectly well. Remember that every scientist in the history of forever has also experienced these failures, and will not think less of you for having them.
  • Don't be afraid to jump in. Many researchers will cluster at a conference, making it difficult to "break in" and join the conversation. It can be a daunting task, but this is a critical point to develop. Almost anyone will be welcoming to a proactive graduate student.
  • Have an opening question prepared. Building upon the last point, it can be difficult to break into a conversation and dive immediately into your elevator talk (see: Giving Elevator Pitches. Be prepared with some questions about the work of the researchers you would like to speak to.

External Resources

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