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Postdoc Networking

  • Ways to support networking
  • Networking using LinkedIn

In academia, networking is critical to career trajectory (Heffernan, 2021). The same also applies to careers beyond academia. Most jobs are found through networks (Ioannidea and Loury, 2004), and those jobs that are found through networks tend to be better suited to the applicant and usually offer better career prospects (Franzen and Hangartner, 2006).

“What happened within my career was every step that I took was quite serendipitous. I met someone, I spoke to them, and I moved on to something new. What I try to do with my postdocs is give them the opportunity to network as much as possible, and I think through these networking experiences and being quite open about my experiences, hopefully they will find a pathway that's right for them.”

Professor Raechelle D'Sa, Professor in Antimicrobial Biomaterials, University of Liverpool.

Yet despite recognising its value, postdocs can be uncomfortable with networking (Chakraverty, 2020) and their networks are often limited to people within academia, making it difficult to explore their wider options.

Steps you can take to support your postdoc in networking

  • The Prosper Postdoc Networking resources can help your postdoc to overcome their hesitations and discover how to network effectively. Signpost your postdoc to these resources and follow up later to ask how they’re getting on.
  • Consider how you might be able to provide opportunities for your postdocs to network. This could be by enabling them to attend conferences, helping to organise conferences or events that you are running or involving them in collaborations with academics and organisations beyond academia.
  • Make your postdoc aware of networks (for example, postdoc or research staff networks) across your institution. These provide opportunities to build their experience and confidence.
  • Encourage your postdoc to consider using LinkedIn (see our section below).
  • Be aware that different postdocs will have their own comfort and confidence levels when it comes to networking. Discuss their feelings about networking with them and work together to support them develop their skills.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of projects with industrial partners and I try to use these as opportunities for the PDRAs to learn more about what a career in the commercial sector looks like and actually recently I've managed to use grant funding to support some of my PDRAs to do product management training, for example.

Professor Rachel Williams, Professor of Ophthalmic Bioengineering, University of Liverpool.

Networking using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking and career development platform with approximately 700 million users worldwide.

LinkedIn allows users to:

  • Connect with and message other professionals. 
  • Research organisations and people within those organisations. 
  • Join professional groups for targeted networking opportunities. 
  • Find and apply for jobs. 
  • Create your own company page and recruit to your own organisation. 
  • Give and receive recommendations. 
  • Complete courses through LinkedIn Learning. 
  • Receive notifications from contacts about information and upcoming roles. 
  • Share ideas and professional content (for example blogs and videos), demonstrating thought leadership.

Why your postdoc should use LinkedIn (and how it might help you)

Whilst there are several other networking sites used in academia (for example, ResearchGate), LinkedIn’s vast and varied userbase presents advantages for careers both within and beyond academia. Expand the sections below to discover LinkedIn’s benefits: 

How can you support your postdoc with LinkedIn

Prosper’s LinkedIn resource for postdocs has plenty of information for how to use LinkedIn effectively and you can simply signpost your postdoc to the resource if you want (or look at the resource yourself if you’d like to start using LinkedIn more effectively). 

Ask your postdoc during a career conversation whether they use LinkedIn, if they keep their profile up to date and whether they’ve used it to expand their network and for career exploration. Follow up in a later meeting and ask how they’re progressing. You could even offer to read their profile – are they articulating the skills that you know that they have? 

If you’re on LinkedIn yourself, you could give your postdoc a LinkedIn recommendation or suggest relevant connections. What are former postdocs and PhD students of yours doing now? 

Further information on LinkedIn for managers of researchers 

For a manager’s guide to LinkedIn and suggested conversation prompts see here.


Heffernan T. 2021. Higher Education Research and Development 5: 981-94. 

Ioannides, Y. M., and L. D. Loury. 2004. Journal of Economic Literature 42: 1056–93. 

Franzen, A., and D. Hangartner. 2006. European Sociological Review 22: 353–68. 

Chakraverty D, 2020 International Journal of Doctoral Studies 15: 329-52. 

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