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Networking 101: Do's & Don'ts By Dr. Carryn Anderson

Written by: Danielle Cerbon, MD

With the "RADIATION ONCOLOGY SUMMIT: ACRO 2023" starting today, we decided to dive into a topic that is ever so important in our careers as radiation oncologists and medical physicists, and one of the cornerstones of the ACRO Summit: "NETWORKING".

I dare say that for residents and medical students pursuing a career in radiation oncology, ACRO has become the ideal place to network and mingle with radiation oncology faculty members, program directors, chairmen, and recruiters from across the country in a smaller and more relaxed conference.

However, the idea of networking can certainly be a very daunting prospect. There are studies showing that some people can feel like networking is an inauthentic and uncomfortable exercise (1,2). Additionally, nowadays social anxiety is a very common and prevalent occurrence, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic (3,4). All of which can contribute towards an overall aversion to engaging in networking when the opportunity presents itself.
Yet, there is ample evidence of a positive association between networking and career success and advancement (5-7). It can lead to collaborations, exchange of ideas, as well as mentorship and job opportunities, and even long-lasting friendships (8).

This is one of the reasons why this year ACRO is helping students and residents by hosting a “Speed Networking Session” on Thursday, March 16th. And in light of the occasion, we have reached out to Dr. Carryn Anderson MD, who is a part of our mentorship program and has been a fantastic mentor to other women in this field. She has provided us with some pointers that we hope will be helpful for anyone reading this entry looking for some guidance when approaching professional sessions such as this one.
So, without further ado, we present the “Do’s & Don’ts” in a professional networking event by Carryn Anderson MD.

"DO show up! Be a few minutes early – sometimes there’s some mingling before such an event that gives you the opportunity to have some extra time with fellow residents or potential mentors. It’s amazing what opportunities may come out of meeting face-to-face with leaders in the field. They may recognize your face at future meetings, etc.

DO ask the mentor what kinds of things they were involved with at your career stage. How did they balance work ambitions with family/childcare/social/physical and mental well-being? What would they have told their younger self at your stage of your career? What mistakes did they make and what did they learn from them? How did they find mentorship at different phases of their career?

DO discuss your clinical/research/educational interests – mentors (even during Speed mentoring) would be delighted to follow up with you to make connections, that’s why they have volunteered to be a part of this session!

DO bring business cards with your contact info – make it easy for mentors to follow up with you. Mentors may not be social media/electronically savvy, so physical business cards may be helpful. Bring a pen and write 1-2 words on the card during the meeting to remind the mentor of your conversation (people can start to blend together during such events!).

DO follow up with mentors that you felt a strong connection with. Hopefully they bring business cards. Bring a small notepad to write down their contact info in case an electronic exchange is not happening easily.

DO dress to impress. Showing that you prepared physically and mentally for the event shows your respect for the time the mentor is volunteering and that you’re taking this opportunity seriously.

DON’T spend the whole time talking about yourself and similarly, don’t let the mentor do all the talking. Keep answers to questions relatively concise so that you can cover more information in a shorter period of time. There should be a dialogue so that you get to know each other quickly.

DON’T bring food/drink to the event. Finish your coffee before the event starts. You don’t want to have a mouthful of food or drink while you’re trying to spend precious few minutes with each person (and you don’t want to have a spill as you’re frequently rotating around the room 😉). "

If you want to read more about improving your networking skills, click on the buttons below to access articles by the Harvard Business Review:

Dr. Carryn M. Anderson, MD is a radiation oncologist in Iowa City, Iowa and is affiliated with University of Iowa Healthcare Department of Radiation Oncology. She received her medical degree from University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine and completed residency training at Cleveland Clinic. She specializes in head and neck and prides herself on connecting with her patients making them feel prioritized and special.

She is an active member of our SWRO mentorship program acting as an outstanding mentor to other women in our field. She has been the residency program director for 10 years at University of Iowa Radiation Oncology Residency.

You can find her on social media through Twitter as @AndersonCarryn.


1. Casciaro T, Gino F, Kouchaki M. The Contaminating Effects of Building Instrumental Ties:How Networking Can Make Us Feel Dirty. Administrative Science Quarterly. 2014;59(4):705-735.

2. Gino F, Kouchaki M, Casciaro T. Why connect? Moral consequences of networking with a promotion or prevention focus. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2020;119(6):1221-1238.

3. Jefferies P, Ungar M. Social anxiety in young people: A prevalence study in seven countries. PLoS One. 2020;15(9):e0239133.

4. Alvi T, Kumar D, Tabak BA. Social anxiety and behavioral assessments of social cognition: A systematic review. J Affect Disord. 2022;311:17-30.

5. Wolff HG, Moser K. Effects of networking on career success: a longitudinal study. J Appl Psychol. 2009;94(1):196-206.

6. Wolff HG, Weikamp JG, Batinic B. Implicit Motives as Determinants of Networking Behaviors. Front Psychol. 2018;9:411.

7. Jacobs S, De Vos A, Stuer D, Van der Heijden B. "Knowing Me, Knowing You" the Importance of Networking for Freelancers' Careers: Examining the Mediating Role of Need for Relatedness Fulfillment and Employability-Enhancing Competencies. Front Psychol. 2019;10:2055.

8. Sleiman J, Duong N, Aby ES, Guerrero Vinsard D, Advani R, Bilal M. Professional Networking at Gastroenterology Scientific Meetings: A Trainee's Practical Guide. Dig Dis Sci. 2023;68(1):24-28.


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