Business Cards: remember to have them printed in advance, or you have to print them on thin paper and cut them yourself.

As I just moved to Germany, I am joining the science communication scene, here. So, I went to a German science communication conference: “Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation” or “Forum Science Communication”. I could only afford one out of three days but I still found out a couple of things.

Here are six things I learned!

  1. Being on Twitter – sometimes vocal – indeed got me some attention
    Especially, I had been contacted even before the conference by an editor at the German SciComm website ““. She had asked me to answer some questions for a profile on their website – an opportunity to put my name out that I wouldn’t pass on. So, I asked how she learned about me. On Twitter!
  2. I had already been aware of most ‘novel takes’ before I went there
    I went to several sessions and was rather pleased to find that my way of finding information and my conclusions from it were represented by speakers. This is mainly about strategy: What is important to communicate? Who are the most important target audiences? Questions like this. Of course, there is a range of opinions, but I wasn’t completely off despite entering the field only recently.
  3. experiences and information travel faster through Twitter than anywhere else.
    While obviously important, offline working science communicators overall appeared to take longer to gather data sufficient to make conclusions on their impact and future strategies. The reason was clear. While online people don’t consider a project successful unless you reach a couple of thousand people, if you put up a stand in the streets, reaching 80 people is a successful day. Also, for better AND worse, people on the internet are more likely to give you… uhm… honest feedback.
  4. The Twitter scicomm community is a good way to quickly get into ongoing conversations.
    Related to previous points, I think the reason why I felt quite familiar with the discussions was that leading science communicators discuss them on twitter.
  5. I had a plan for networking and I stuck to it.
    There were a couple of connections and clients I wanted to talk to and so I did! I didn’t go to the “networking speed-dating” (I really think they should rename it ‘speed-networking’). I took my time meeting with the aforementioned editor, as I had planned, in peace. It was an insightful conversation! I’ve been told the speed thing is also great. Maybe next time. The other part of the plan was to distribute my business cards. I also accidentally forgot a couple of cards here and there on the tables…
  6. I am not too bad at networking.
    When I first saw the speed-networking event advertised I made a half-serious comment on twitter about it. Although I did use anxiety-emojis, I wasn’t actually scared. But I am introverted and I find these things exhausting. Anyways, I think my conversations went smoothly (although, as mentioned above, I did not go to the speed networking thing). Everybody made a positive impression on me!

In conclusion: I found myself on the right path, which is quite reassuring. I mean, I just stopped doing what I did and then decided to do other stuff – also, the first time I am freelancing. That’s a good feeling!