When you really need collaborators you will be under pressure, and cold calling is going to be more difficult than approaching someone who you’ve already been in touch with. So I’d recommend making that first move now: send someone a message today! You might feel like you’ve got nothing to say but here are some excuses for getting in touch.
- I’m going to this conference, are you? You could suggest meeting for dinner, a coffee or breakfast so that you can discuss your common research interests. Simple enough, but it only works if you’re going to a conference in the next year and it’s possible that your match might be going too…
- I’m going to be in your city, let’s catch up over coffee. If you’re going to a conference, perhaps it’s not only the conference delegates that you would like to talk to about your research. Of course, this also only works if you’re travelling soon.
- I’d love to read your paper but it’s behind a paywall. A genuine reason to write to someone but perhaps less likely in this age of the Open Access repository.
- I’ve just published something great that you might like to read. Self-promotion at its finest! Don’t hide your light under a bushel: people might genuinely be interested in your research, if you choose the person and the work to highlight wisely. If you’re pointing to your paper, it might be good to make sure that they can access a copy.
- This paper, opportunity or survey might be of interest to you. Promote someone else’s work if you can’t bring yourself to promote your own! The key is to point to something that genuinely might be useful to that person.
- Can you do me a favour? Asking for teaching materials that you can use, for feedback on your own work, or an intelligent, informed question about their work is one way to get to know someone but it’s not always easy to get this right: what’s in it for them? Demonstrate lots of interest in them and lots of appreciation in advance: it might work.
- I really admire your work and I’d love to feature you in an interview for the jobs.ac.uk blog! We’re always interested in guest blog posts at jobs.ac.uk, so you can’t blame us for suggesting this as an excuse! If you would like to write a guest blog post for us then just get in touch with your suggestion.
Well, those are some of my ideas for reasons to reach out. I’d love to hear yours, especially if you’ve got any stories of times when you tried this.
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