This post is my attempt to reduce my grumpiness index. I am *so* damn tired of both self-improvement and how to be a better mentor advice. So, look on the bright side, me and Monty Python. I value my colleagues. Young and old. For what I can learn. I may be beyond self-improvement, but not learning.
One untenured colleague, someone who I mentor professionally, came back from a meeting. She was joyful and charged up and filled with both science and professionalism.
She had had some time talking with a slightly older friend who gave her three good bits of advice. While this advice was intended for a someone 2-years pre-tenure, its easy to morph to fit other stages of academic life.
Thus, at a scientific meeting:
1. Are you going up to talk to the people who will likely be writing letters for you? The ones you suggest and ones you know someone else will suggest to the tenure/promotions committee?
This is also true of people on study sections, the people who will be reviewing your paper. In general, it applies to people who will be in a position to render judgment. Yeah, yeah, we are all totally fair and review everything objectively. But unconscious bias also works towards our friends. The people we know. Having a face on a name is generally a good thing.
2. Have you thought about organizing a symposium for this meeting?
I particularly recommend this for mid-career folks. One of the things that promotion to Full Prof usually entails is demonstration of "national or international reputation" or "national leadership". Organizing a symposium at a national meeting is one way to do this. Furthermore, you get to invite some folks who might, in the future, write letters for you. Let alone there are scientific benefits from talking with people you think are really good and really smart. Who knows where your science will go.
3. Have you talked to your (other junior faculty) friends about getting invited out to give a talk?
This is also good along the lines of putting a face to your name. Other benefits? Meeting big dogs. If there is someone in the department you're going to that you would like to meet, email them in advance and say "hey, I'm coming to town, and I'd really like to meet you". I often don't feel like I have time to talk to speakers, but if someone takes the trouble to email me, of course, I am going to meet with them. Also, these talks, in judicious numbers (not too many) are good at tenure or promotion time.