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Virtual Networking, Research and Work: A Mini Guide to Get Started

Ilaria Orsi, Caroline Betto-Colliard & Denis Billotte, CUSO

Last week, we made some suggestions for the development and maintenance of your professional networks. Among others, we mentioned the importance of building an online presence, via virtual networks. Today we would like to take a look at the most important platforms in Switzerland that are useful for this purpose and reflect on their advantages and limitations.
Please note that this post does not concern mediasharing (e.g. SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo...), datasharing (e.g. Dryad Digital Repository, Mendeley...), codesharing, nor traditional office tools (email, shared agenda, slack, MIRO...), nor blogs.

Professional and academic context :
The main virtual networks for researchers are (rather oriented towards Humanities and Social Sciences) and Research Gate (in principle rather oriented towards Life and Exact Sciences).
Objectives: enable the sharing of information (articles, events such as colloquia, workshops, exhibitions...); promote the creation and development of the professional network specific to one's own research field or intellectual interests; measure the impact of one's own work; obtain publications from other researchers.
Good practices: Detail your research interests; list your publications and, more generally, your work; use the platforms to show your intellectual curiosity: ask questions to other researchers; be vigilant about the ownership and protection of (your) data.
Limitations : The statistics related to your visibility remain quite obscure; think carefully before publishing your texts in full version: discuss it with your research director and your colleagues.
To go further (and especially to be aware of potential biases and risks): The open archives of Toulouse provide a good bibliography to go a little deeper.

Extra-academic Professional Context :
At present, LinkedIn is the most developed professional network in Switzerland.
Objectives : increase your professional visibility; identify interesting job offers; establish and maintain your network (join other people's networks); know who consults your profile; interact with professionals in your sector via discussion groups; meet the people in your LinkedIn network; integrate the Alumni groups of your schools... ;
Good practices : Choose a good picture and personalize the background image; reread, check and update your profile on a regular basis; choose your keywords and hashtags carefully; be precise and attractive; banish rhetoric; participate in discussion groups; congratulate someone on their new position; send personalized invitations...
Limitations : Your LinkedIn profile is not an online CV! Be careful to differentiate your CVs (which should always be targeted to the job offer) from your profile (which is necessarily more general); some limitations of the free version: you can not view all the people who have viewed your profile, but only the last one; you can not send emails to people who are not part of your network.
To go further : participate in the "Let's Boost Your LinkedIn Profile" workshop, given by Maura Hannon and organized each semester by CUSO transversal program.

Non-professional (but still) context :
As E. Mourlon-Druol ("L'usage des réseaux sociaux pour chercheurs", in E. Cavalié, F. Clavert, O. Legendre, D. Martin, Experimenting with the digital humanities) Twitter and Facebook (and recently Instagram) have gradually entered the world of research and they can now also serve as platforms for sharing, visibility and connection.
Objectives: make his/her scientific work known beyond the academic world; promote events; reach out to society.
Good practices: adapt your language to the content and the audience; take care of your visuals and pictures (especially on Instagram); choose your hashtags very carefully; join (on Facebook) the groups that might be interesting for you.
Limits and risks: be careful not to mix the professional and private spheres (in this regard, Facebook allows you to split your profile in two); stay focused; consider that tweets and the story on Instagram have a limited lifespan.
To go further: Have a look at the post of the blog What Sup about Twitter and research.

To conclude, here are some links concerning the use of social networks within our universities:


PS: about virtual networks, connections and resonance, a wink to Sophie Leclère from what-sup-net! Click here to read her post on networking.

Mots clés: Career, Networking, Communication, Social media