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does your advisor introduce you to people at conferences?


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Yes, but not anymore since I have gone enough times to meet my own people. But the first few conferences early on as a student, my advisor would always introduce me to other people if we were in a group and there were people there that my advisor knew but I did not. Also, my advisor and I don't usually travel to the same conferences!

I think it really helps to have this but not absolutely necessary. When I go to conferences with younger students in my program, I try to introduce them to all of my conference friends. I know that many other advisors don't help their students out in this way but it's actually a lot easier to start meeting new people than it sounds. You might meet 2 or 3 people your first time around, and then the next conference you will see them again and they will introduce you to their other conference friends and so on etc. I think an important part of "meeting people" at a conference is to go beyond just the introductions and small talk at coffee. I make most of my conference friends by continuing to spend time with them over several coffee breaks or maybe a lunch, dinner, or a round of drinks. 

Sometimes you travel with a lot of others in your cohort and it's tempting to all stick together but to meet new people, you need to branch out. But at the same time, when you do meet new people, do go back and introduce them to people you already know at your school. If each of your cohort mates did this, you would quickly meet a ton of people very fast.

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Does your advisor introduce you to people at conferences? Or do they leave you on your own? 

Yes and yes. My advisor will introduce me to people at conferences if they see me, I come over, and they're talking to someone I either don't know or who they think I should know. But, I don't count on this happening because our major professional conference has 8-10K attendees and I don't always run into my advisor unless we've planned to meet somewhere. In general, my advisor has always left me on my own, even when I was a first year PhD student. (Of course, I'd done an MA and previously gone to and presented at the major conference.) But my advisor is pretty hands-off when it comes to conferences with ALL students. 

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They will definitely introduce me if they are talking to someone who I don't know (or they think I don't know) and I walk over. They have also offered to introduce me to anyone I want, if we are all there at the same place at the same time (i.e. they will send an email before big conferences saying roughly "if there is anyone you want to be introduced to and I can help, let me know and we'll make it happen"). Mostly, I'll get a coffee or lunch with them to catch up but otherwise we don't always hang out in the same circles, so I guess that means they leave me alone quite a bit. They do come over (or email) to ask how my presentation(s) went and whether I got good questions. That's a good opportunity for me to ask about the identity of question-askers I didn't know and get another chance for an introduction. Honestly the best thing they do is cite me in their talks and point me out if I am in the audience. That tends to be more effective than any individual introduction.

 

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By the time I got to my current program I already had built up a small network of FB/conference contacts that I am comfortable talking too. While my advisor (and other senior faculty) have been more than happy to introduce me to people when we are all in the same place, I tend to find my own circles at conferences, and just go to him if there is someone specific I want to meet.

The reality is that, as a grad student, I'm more likely to get honest conversation and future collaboration out of my peers than senior faculty, so I much prefer spending my time with that group (current students and junior faculty). This year it feels like a lot of my friends are starting TT jobs, so it will be interesting to see how that social dynamic changes

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