Networking, Networking, Networking: How to build a network of champions


Richard Ponzio (2004, DPhil in International Relations) was part of our inaugural DPIR Alumni Career Conversation. Here are his top tips for how to get yourself and your work seen, in a digital world. 

To find out more about Richard’s career story, read Richard’s 'Life After DPIR' interview

  1. Getting out to the field and getting experience. Fresh out of my Master’s Degree I worked at a think tank in Pakistan but there are foundations, consultancies, and university assignments all around the world where you can get your foot in the door. These are great places to start your networking.
  2. Starting conversations. When you start your conversations, talk about ideas and commonalities. 
  3. Don’t spam. Reach out 2 or 3 times a year when you have something substantive to share – a research study, even a short op-ed – and give them an indication of where you are. Even if you’re in a position, share the good news of what you’re doing and that at some stage you’ll be looking for advice on taking the next step. 
  4. Respect people’s time. Always keep your communications warm and respectful with your network. Pre-arranged meetings don’t need to last more than 15-20 minutes, especially if the person is in a senior position. Go in with a defined set of questions and keep it succinct and focussed.
  5. Patience is a virtue. Remember, it’s not just about building a generic network, it’s building a network of champions and finding mentors; that kind of cultivation takes time. 
  6. Stay connected with DPIR’s global alumni community. Finally, you have a major advantage being part of the DPIR community, and the alumni community are here to support your efforts, so good luck in fully utilising this community as you pursue your professional goals!

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