Speed dating networking activity
Finding new research partners can be a challenge for basic scientists and clinical researchers, as it may require them to step outside of their daily commitments.But it's important: Meeting scientists from other disciplines can spark a new research idea or open the door to a solution to a problem that has seemed intractable.The Weill Cornell Medical College Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), headed by Julianne Imperato-Mc Ginley, took a novel approach to overcoming the challenge of forming scientific relationships: We organized a "speed networking" event that brought together researchers from CTSC's institutions--Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Hospital for Special Surgery, Hunter College, and Cornell University--and from three New York-area community hospitals.Our so-called Translational Research Bazaar, which took place in October, used a format popularized by speed dating: Two groups of people--in this case, basic scientists and clinical/translational researchers--sit on opposite sides of a table and chat for a few minutes until a bell rings, signaling that it's time to move on and strike up a new conversation.This process continues until everyone in one group has met everyone in the other group.
It includes some reflections on a few things we'll do differently next time.
You will no doubt adapt these instructions to your institution, limitations, audience, and desired outcomes. Although speed dating was invented by a Los Angeles, California, rabbi as a way for Jewish singles to meet, speed dating and its cousin, speed networking, were rapidly and widely adopted in New York City.
That seems fitting, quips Brian Kelly, director of the Cornell Center for Technology, Enterprise and Commercialization at Weill Cornell Medical College: New York is a city where "you're going to know the guy who delivers your Chinese food better than the guy who lives next door." The same can be said of large research institutions such as Weill Cornell, he says: "People on the fourth floor here don't know what happens on the fifth floor." Kelly was on the team that wrote the grant proposal for Weill Cornell's Clinical and Translational Science Award, which they received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in September 2007.
At a brainstorming session for the project in the summer of 2006, Kelly and his colleagues were thinking of innovative ways to promote new collaborations among researchers across CTSC's diverse institutions.
Kelly had just read an article on speed dating in New York City, so he suggested it as something they could apply in the context of CTSC.None of the proposals, he says, "hit home in terms of the ability to get to know your neighbor as well as speed networking." Julianne Imperato-Mc Ginley, principal investigator of the CTSC, picked up on the suggestion and incorporated it into the grant proposal.Once CTSC had its funding, Weill Cornell hired consultant Louise Holmes, an employment-skills consultant (and the author of the accompanying Perspective), to plan what would be called the Translational Research Bazaar."There were very few, if any, examples of speed networking with this particular demographic," she says.