How to Network from Home

We have been going on Lab Dates and it is pretty cool.

Five penguins standing in a cold looking environment. It appears as though three of them are chatting with one another and the other two are having their own conversation.
Caption This Photo” by U.S. Geological Survey is marked with CC0 1.0.

CSCW 2021 introduced Lab Speed Dating wherein labs were matched and given an hour to get to know each other. Sohyeon Hwang organized our first lab date. It was so much fun we decided to go on more in order to meet other groups. I wanted to share a bit about this and our process in case you are interested in trying it out or want to have a meetup with us.

After the initial CSCW Lab Date we made a very long list of other labs we want to meet and have (slowly) been inviting them to come by. We also included individual researchers, people who collaborate in smaller, informal groups, co-authors, and corporate research teams.

We use our “softblock” to schedule meetings, rather than finding a new time for each meeting. The CDSC maintains a softblock, which is a block of time for whatever comes up, one-off meetings we need to schedule, and co-working sessions. (Today I am using the softblock to write this blog post!)

We are pretty open to different structures for our lab dates. So far the ones with full labs have been divided into two parts: 1) everyone introduces themselves as briefly as we can manage and then 2) we break out into small groups for short periods of time to talk. We try to cycle through 2-3 of these breakouts, depending on how many people are in attendance. When meeting with individuals, our guests typically present a piece of work that we workshop or discussed their interests in a more general sense and we talk about them as a whole group. We are open to other models, but nothing has come up yet.

Blocks have focused around networking and getting to know other researchers on a professional level. Because we have been attending fewer in-person events, we have had fewer chances to meet new people. Even at events it can be hard to connect with the people you want to meet and it is very hard (for us) to have everyone from the CDSC in a space together with another group.

If you are interested in going on a lab date with us, you can message me on IRC or email me (details here). We have a lot of open spots for the rest of the quarter and one of them could be yours!

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