*Guided Networking at JSM 2019

Reaching Your Networking Peak: A Guided Networking Session at JSM (Featured in Amstat News!)
By Claire McKay Bowen and Elizabeth MannshardtCareerDevCommittee-Poster.jpg

The Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) and other conferences are great venues to network with people from around the world. However, for many students and early career professionals, networking can be extremely intimidating. Additionally, although networking is an essential skill at all stages of a professional’s career, courses and/or training on how to network well may be hard to find. With the goal to help students and early career statisticians, the ASA Committee on Career Development (ASA CCD) hosted the guided networking session, “Reaching Your Networking Peak,” at the 2019 JSM in Denver and will host the same event at the 2020 JSM in Philadelphia.


Dean Sally Morton providing networking tips to a packed room of volunteers and participants at the 2019 JSM.

Reaching Your Networking Peak at the 2019 JSM:


Pro-networker Dr. Sally Morton, Dean of the College of Science at Virginia Tech and ASA Past-President, discussed various topics, such as introducing yourself confidently. Each topic discussion was followed by three 5-minute practice sessions where participants had the opportunity to interact with more experienced members of the ASA community. Color coded tags indicated whether the seasoned networkers were from industry, government, and academia, allowing participants to network with professionals in the career area they plan to pursue. These volunteers were invaluable as they provided both constructive feedback and a friendly, networking environment for participants to practice their own networking skills.  Dean Morton also solicited additional networking tips from the seasoned networking volunteers. Tips included how to exit a conversation gracefully and the importance of eye contact.

Dr. Sally Morton, Dean of the College of Science at Virginia Tech and ASA Past-President.


Sally Morton reflected on the experience: "The engagement, encouragement and active learning between the attendees and volunteers was energizing. We all left the session with practical tips and increased confidence – thanks to the Committee on Career Development and Claire for the impactful session!"

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from both participants and volunteers.

As a shy person with little networking experience, meeting people at a large conference like JSM was really daunting. The session gave me the confidence boost that I needed to network with potential employers and interview well at the Career Service. '' – Kara Martinez, North Carolina State University (NCSU) graduate student.

Sally helped me beef up my one-liner game for the next time I’m stuck alone at a JSM mixer.” – Eva Tourangeau, University of Washington graduate student.

It was great to have such a well-organized and focused event to start JSM. As a mentor, I enjoyed listening to Sally Morton and thinking about ways to help our students learn how to network at conferences.” – Emily Griffith, SAMSI Deputy Director and Associate Professor, NCSU.  “The students from NCSU who attended gained a lot of confidence. We were so inspired by this that we are organizing a smaller version of this at NCSU before ENAR using ASA CCD materials.” Kara Martinez, a 2019 ASA CCD Guided Networking Participant, is a student organizer!

It was great to interact with young professionals and students. They were excited to ask about insights on how to navigate JSM and benefit from networking at conferences and other professional events.” – Elizabeth Mannshardt, US EPA. 

Personal interactions between mentors and participants also led to fruitful follow-ups: “I wanted to take a moment to thank you for working with me in the networking workshop. Networking is something that I struggle with, but you made the exercise fun. I enjoyed learning about the work that you do.” – Guided Networking participant.

Looking forward to the 2020 JSM:

Rob-Santos.pngDr. Rob Santos, Vice President and Chief Methodologist Director at the Urban Institute.

ASA President-Elect and Vice President and Chief Methodologist Director at the Urban Institute, Dr. Rob Santos will lead the 2020 JSM Guided Networking session in Philadelphia as our pro-networker. ASA CCD will also welcome seasoned networkers as volunteers. Based on feedback from 2019 the ASA CCD plans to have an area for networking and an area for sitting as well as water drinking stations.

Organizer Takeaways:

The ASA CCD received overwhelming positive feedback from participants, volunteers, and Dean Morton. Given the huge success of the session, we encourage academic institutions to consider hosting similar events locally to help their students become networking pros.  Full session details and tips for organizers can be found on the ASA CCD Blog.  The ASA CCD looks forward to hosting Guided Networking at future JSM's.  Please visit the ASA CCD Upcoming Events page for details on the 2020 schedule and additional CCD offerings such as office hours and professional development webinars including “A Beginner’s Guide to Navigating JSM”.  ASA CCD welcomes input and suggestions from the ASA community.


Participants practicing Dean Morton’s advice with our seasoned networking volunteers.

Reaching Your Networking Peak - JSM 2019

Date: Sunday, July 28, 2019

Time: 2:00 pm - 3:50 pm

Outline: ASA Committee on Career Development (ASA CCD) is hosting a guided networking social for students and early career statisticians to practice in a friendly environment. We will have our “pro networker”, Sally Morton, discusses various topics such as introducing yourself confidently followed by practice time. During the practice sessions, students and early career professionals will be forced to “rotate” to meet and practice with new people - volunteers (YOU!) from industry, government, and academia.




2:00 pm - 2:10 pm


Introduce the ASA CCD group and Dean Sally Morton as well as provide a general outline for the networking session.

Topic 1: Confident Introduction

2:10 pm - 2:20 pm

Topic 1

5 to 10 minutes to describe topic 1

2:20 pm - 2:25 pm


5 minutes to practice

2:25 pm - 2:30 pm


5 minutes to practice

2:30 pm - 2:35 pm


5 minutes to practice

Topic 2: Elevator Pitch

2:35 pm - 2:45 pm

Topic 2

5 to 10 minutes to describe topic 2

2:45 pm - 2:50 pm


5 minutes to practice

2:55 pm - 3:00 pm


5 minutes to practice

3:00 pm - 3:05 pm


5 minutes to practice

Topic 3: Tips at Socials/Mixers

3:05 pm - 3:10 pm

Topic 3

5 to 10 minutes to describe topic 3

3:10 pm - 3:15 pm


5 minutes to practice

3:15 pm - 3:20 pm


5 minutes to practice

3:25 pm - 3:30 pm


5 minutes to practice


3:30 pm - 3:40 pm


Summarize the advice given and advertise a local place that the ASA CCD has reserved to continue networking (happy hour!).