I know that phd students are supposed to do the whole networking thing by themselves but i'm completely stuck. I have emailed several academics whose work is important for my project but none have replied back. I know its my job to sort stuff like this out but even if my sup could give me one contact, i'd be happy- i just need a starting point. Will he think i'm totally hopeless if i ask?
go to conferences. it's worth the money. i've been going to all the relevant conferences which i could afford for the last 7 years and it's been worth the money even when i only had cup-a-soups and bread for weeks. it's easy "networking" over a cup of coffee and discussing the last talk. i now know all the top people in my field.
If you supervisor is well known in the field, I don't see anything wrong with them emailing these academics and saying "My PhD student is working on blah and needs blah " etc.
Well known academics get 100's of emails daily, most of which are crap and they can be quite brutal (have to be - due to time constraints) about going through and using the delete button.
Did you have a clear subject heading on these emails? You also have to remember, the emails we get on this forum from foreign students asking for funding etc are also received by well known people in their fields. Even I get them and I'm just a lowly PhD student.
Unsolicited email aren't the easiest way to network, and on that I totally agree with H for the reasons given. Conferences are your best bet. You can subscribe to the above site. You should also check out conference advertised in your uni and others, in journals, etc. Search online using google, e.g. Conference + 2008 + your topic. Get involved with journals, do book reviews if it's too early to start writing papers. Seminars, workshops also are ways of meeting people. Also check any research bodies for your topic area, they may also have annual conferences, with slots (and sometimes funding or special rates) for PhD students. Best of luck.
you could also go to student conferences and practice holding talks there, that's how i started. become a member in your national student organisation for your field and go to the conferences they organise. that's usually pretty cheap and it's good to get to know other students and find out what they are doing. also, a lot of top people tend to go to these conferences and sit in on the talks to check out the new "talent".
thank you so much for the advice guys- will definitely take a note of your suggestions. i got one reply back, (from the five that i sent)- the professor was perfectly nice and helpful, if a little vague but i'll email again
Heading off to the British Library in 2 weeks to start researching again- still need to figure out exactly what i need to research- but i refuse to panic about it, just gonna deal with it. Anyway, thanks x
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