Having a network is your second encyclopedia

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So as this is my first ever blog it will give this plea…Please read it and be gentle?

Going to conferences, especially a major industrial hygiene conference like the AIHce, is a fantastic way to learn about the technical aspects of what we do,  but also it’s a great place to meet people and to network. We are fortunate that our profession is a close community of scientists, academics, leaders, regulators, and down right awesome hygienists. But no matter what your profession is, you may like to think about building a network of peers who you can call on for help, or just throw around ideas to see if someone else is thinking the same thing as you.

Building a network of professionals around you is also a great way (but not the only way) to further yourself in your career and to help others develop their career also. Being a loud mouthed Yorkshireman from the UK I find it easy, but it is one of the most important skills for professional development.

At AIHce 2014 I am very much looking forward to building on my network of hygienists and professionals from the OEHS community. So here are some top tips from the perspective of this “young hygienist“on networking:

1. Build a network of peers who are wiser than you…at the AIHce this generally isn’t too difficult!

I know Kate Cole talks about #hygienegods a lot and yes seek out those who have been there and done that and got the t-shirt…but it’s important to ask them about their experiences the obstacles they faced on their way. So in preparation for the AIHce I have set my mind to sponge mode and am ready to soak it all up.

2. Find professionals who work in the same sector as you

Depending on your sector, this usually isn’t too difficult, especially at a large conference like the AIHce.

3. Find people who are at a similar place in your career who have similar goals.

One great example of this at the AIHce is the Future Leaders Institute (FLI), which I had the honour of being part of in November 2011. The FLI is consists of a group of people from different backgrounds and countries but the common thread is that they all have a passion for industrial (occupational) hygiene. Although three years have passed since I was a part of FLI, we still maintain contact and we now have a great community where we can ask questions, bounce ideas off of each other and also enjoy hanging out at conferences.

So wherever you find yourself, get yourself into groups such as regional meetings, special interest groups, online groups, conferences and go and build your network. Don’t be shy – just remember that there are probably a whole heap of people just like you trying to do the same thing.


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