Networking events for PhD students and academics

Networking events, be it live or virtual, could help connect PhDs and academics with similar interests, and they could also help them discover different ways of approaching certain aspects of academia life. They could be organized in the form of conferences, seminars, lab meetings, various social events as well as online social networks, where social media profiles of academics can be used for a rather useful purpose. Such events bring people from different fields of academia together, creating opportunities for them to hear about other people's research, and also allowing them to discover different institutions they could visit in order to gain new knowledge. 




Better communication and cooperation Improved visibility Support mental health and wellbeing Social integration

Basic information
Categories Networking Social Integration & Daily Life Profesional & Academic Development
Mobility stages During mobility phase
Delivery schedule Once an academic year
Importance Important to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers)
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Exchange student
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

When planning networking events for PhDs/academics, the following should be kept in mind:

  • institutions should check which networking events could be housed by them. In cases of conferences, seminars, summer schools, they should book venues and find volunteers. They should probably do that around the time when the majority of incoming PhD students and academics are visiting the institutions, because that would be an incredible opportunity to allow their own academics and incoming academics to share experiences and stories, and eventually exchange contact information, so that they could communicate and collaborate in the future.

  • create a registration form and send out invitations via proven communication channels

  • publish information with details on the institutional website and social media profile, so that the news of the event would reach interested parties. 

  • when it comes to social media networks, institutions could create a group/subpage providing thus a platform for interaction between local academics and current or potential incoming PhD students and academics. Those platforms could be made on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, where the almost real-time response would immensely facilitate communication and potential collaboration.

Apart from such rather advanced events that need a lot of resources (conferences, summer schools, etc), a great opportunity to support the social integration of incoming PhD students and academics as well as establish social and professional networks are various smaller-scale social events that are less demanding for the budget. Here are some examples: 

  • Regular international get-togethers, social hours, coffee/beer hours, field trips and dinners, guided city tours, balls and galas, sports events, hikes, concerts, cooking classes, board game nights, visits to museum/city hall, Christmas and summer parties, etc.

  • International Day: cultural events where academics/their family members from different countries can present their culture, lecture on local country culture and history, etc.

  • Academic events: discussions and talks about their work/career path: conferences, guest lectures, round tables, department meetings, institute seminars, Doctoral Day, regular group meetings (e.g., every Monday), Ph.D. seminars, science breakfasts, symposiums, business meetings, job-related talks

  • Various mentoring activities, tandems, peer group meetings,

  • Language cafe enabling internationals/their family members to exchange languages/learn/practice other languages 

  • Family events: get-togethers; joint social events (e.g. joint planting or campus cleaning, clothes exchange, city tours, cooking classes, visits to museums, field trips, etc)

  • Creating a mixing-up space where internationals can mix with their local peers/fellows

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Leisure activities centre (sport centre, museum, garden)
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Municipality
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Tourist information centre/board
  • Local expat centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Peer learning activity (s) set up

@ Other HEI/research organisations in city/ region - may join their forces and use the resources more efficiently to create a so-called " one-stop-shop" and plan and offer a joint " Welcome Service", especially, if also smaller institutions are involved. They can also organise joint welcome and other social networking events or even create a mixing place leading to effective networking between local and international academics. Locally organized activities have proved to facilitate the integration into a new social community.

@EURAXESS centre typically provides a wide portfolio of integration services, organises some kind of social events for incoming PhD students/academics/researchers. EURAXESS members also have expertise in mobility-related topics, can be invited as guest speakers to various events. It can also promote various events via the national EURAXESS portal and dedicated social media.

@ Municipality - can host welcome events for internationals, or provide a venue/premises for cultural events or talks where also international PhD students and academics could be invited and actively involved in programme (talks, public discussion forum), the city council. The City council can also promote various events for families (Christmas markets, cultural programme, summer cultural events, voluntary activities for better social integration of spouses, cultural events where internationals from different countries can present their culture, sports activities (runs), etc).

@Tourist information office/board in cooperation with IROs can provide materials and professional guide for the guided city tour, during pandemic many of them have prepared virtual city tours, videos (also in English, or at least with English subtitles) that can be recommended to incoming international students and academics.

@Local ex-pat centre - in several cities ex-pat centres organise welcome events for all internationals on a regular basis, they also organise lectures and seminars on various topics of interest relevant to internationals, inviting internationals to speak and share their experience.

Practice delivery

Delivery activities are the following:

  • institutions announcing that they will be organizing a networking event; a decision is made regarding what kind of a networking event it will be; they decide on whether it will be virtual or held in a venue; they decide who their target guests are - PhD students or academics,

  • the networking event is then advertised on social media pages of the organizing institution, as well as its site,

  • hosts are determined - it would be best if those hosts are PhD students/academics of the institutions which organise the event.

  • after each event collect feedback from the participants.

Challenges (factors to consider): These events should encourage their participants to meet and exchange information about their field of work. It might be considered to opt for organising themed networking events.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Students association
  • Researchers association
  • Leisure activities centre (sport centre, museum, garden)
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Municipality
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Tourist information centre/board
  • Local expat centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of events organized annually
  • Number of events participants annually

For the tips for collaboration with external partners see the examples in the Set-up activities.

Examples of practice

Tenth Annual IT Speed Networking Event

Lansing Community College organizes IT Speed Networking, an annual event which offers the opportunity  for LCC IT students and local employers to connect. This is a networking event first and foremost.

EURAXESS Vienna Meeting Point

The platform “EURAXESS Meeting Point VIENNA” offers different tools to support exchange and collaboration of researchers in the Vienna area in order to facilitate social integration of internationals including their family members. The platform organises regular:

  • Thematic Walking Tours through Vienna
  • Family events in various Vienna museum or other interesting sites (Technical museum, Chocolate museums, Botanical garden, etc)
  • Online talks and discussions on various research or cereer development topics
  • PhD caffes, online