A guide to networking in pharma

The word ‘networking’ has the power to strike fear into many pharma professionals. Despite that fact, many agree it is a crucial career mistake to avoid networking.  

Did you know?

85% of jobs are filled through networking, But unfortunately one in four people don’t network at all

With a range of benefits up for grabs, here are a few key tips to take with you on your next networking venture.


1.       Go in with a plan of action  

Although it is important to keep existing contacts warm by touching base at events, it’s important to use the captive audience to forge new business connections. In this respect, attending networking events alone is helpful to force you into networking. These new relationships can be useful for new opportunities and collaborations.

Firstly make sure you attend the right event, one that is directly relevant to your current projects in your area of expertise. This allows you to draw real value from your time. Also, you will feel more at ease when networking and be able to give more value to give other attendees.

Research who will be there and how you could maximise your touch point with them. What are you working on currently that they could assist you with - this forethought reduces the dilemma of what to talk about.

2.       Start the conversation

Introduce yourself, comment on stimuli from the meeting you are at – discussion points brought up, jokes made by speakers so far, asking what it is that brings them here today or what they hope to get out of the event.

Ask what they do – comment on any similarities with your company or on anything  you know about the company. Be sure to listen and interact with further comments or questions to keep the flow going.

3.       Be intentional

Network actively with a purpose and intention, there is often a lot of value up for grabs in the room so there really isn’t time to waste on some small talk.

With that said, don’t be too quick to move on, by networking with a fewer amount of people this allows you to really get to know them, you will get a feel for their drivers and pain points. This knowledge will be useful for negotiating your relationship at a later stage and aligning your objectives. Here, you are focused on quality not quantity. 

4.       Don’t ask for permission to leave a conversation, inform them that you are moving on

So it’s been pleasant, great even, but the value of the conversation between you and your new friend has come to a natural end, which is inevitable. The question is: how to move on without jeopardising all your hard work by unintentionally making a rude exit.

Perhaps run with something along the lines of:

“It’s been great talking to you, here’s my card we should definitely connect again in the future. But I must make the most of being here and chat to some attendees I haven’t had a chance to yet.”

You could even ask if they have spoken to anyone that would have any expertise on your area of  interest.

Note some memorable points on their business card to jog your memory for future interactions with them.

5.  Make introductions

This is a good way to exit a conversation and leave the departed with a new contact who is of some  value to them. Introduce those at the event who have a similar focus or share objectives.

Remember relationships take time and need investment, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate benefits from your networking spree. You never know when the fruit of a well placed relationship will begin to flourish, so it is important to keep contacts warm.