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Networking on the Network: A Guide to Professional Skills for PhD Students by Phil Agre

This is an excerpt from this great guide to networking

Why is Networking Important?

The truth is that the world is made of people. People out of communities are like fish out of water or plants out of soil. Research of all kinds depends critically on intensive and continually evolving communication among people engaged in related projects. Networking cannot substitute for good research, but good research cannot substitute for networking either. You can’t get a job or a grant or any recognition for your accomplishments unless you keep up to date with the people in your community. Establishing professional relationships with particular people and involving yourself in particular professional communities will change you: not only will you internalize a variety of interesting points of view, but you will become more comfortable in your writing and speaking because you will be engaged in an ongoing conversation with people you know. And if no community is waiting for you, you will have to go out and build one — one person at a time. This “overhead” can be a nuisance at first, but none of it is terribly difficult once you get some practice and really convince yourself that you cannot sustain your professional life without devoting some time to it.