Clinical professionals master the art of networking

“I have never landed any internship, fellowship or job just from the traditional interview process.”

For Maria Filippou-Frye, MD, M.B.S, a clinical research manager at the Rodriguez Lab at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, networking is the skill that has shaped her professional life.

“Networking is very personal to me,” she says. “I have never landed any internship, fellowship or job just from the traditional interview process—including my current position. I got it through networking.”

Filippou-Frye teaches Medical/Clinical Terminology and Clinical Research: The Study Site Perspective at UCSC Extension. She is one of the key presenters Wednesday at “Mastering the Art of Networking for Clinical Research Professionals,” an evening event hosted by the Northern California Chapter of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (NCC ACRP) in Palo Alto.

“Everyone can learn how to network effectively,” Filippou-Frye says. Networking involves both good listening skills and presentation skills. “It’s a skillset you can practice and get better at. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone.”

“I realized that networking is the ace in my sleeve and I practice in front of a mirror. You can’t ever master it because you deal with different people and personalities.”

Filippou-Frye urges her students to network at every opportunity. It’s something you can do when you’re in class with other students and instructors, attending industry networking events and conferences, even in social situations.

“Having the skills always in hand is very important,” she says.

Filippou-Frye has three guiding tips: practice, follow up, and maintain the relationship.

Practice your presentation

The ability to present yourself in a short amount of time is key.

“It’s like an elevator pitch, but instead of pitching a product, you’re pitching yourself,” Filippou-Frye says. “To do that in one minute, that’s actually pretty difficult. In addition, it’s important to be able to answer questions that you are genuinely interested in.”

A smaller class might write it down first, but the NCC ACRP event is expected to draw over 60 attendees, so people will pair up to practice. There’s only one way to make it sound natural, Filippou-Frye says. Practice.

Follow up with your new contact

The goal of networking is to expand your relationships, so follow-up is the most important thing you can do. You don’t wait until you need a job to reach out.

Maintain professional relationships

“In order to maintain a relationship that you form through networking, you have to follow up,” she says. “There are many ways to do that.”

  • Share articles. Show people you are thinking about what they might be interested in.
  • Send a thank you note. Let them know you look forward to connecting with them in the future.
  • Get their advice. “I was thinking about doing X what do you think?”
  • Set up lunch. “I would love to pick your brain on this topic. Would you have lunch with me?”

Filippou-Frye recalls following up with someone for two years. During medical school in Greece she met a nurse practitioner serving as clinical research manager at a university when she was visiting Los Angeles for a five-week observership. She kept in touch. When she graduated, she reached out and asked her if there were any fellowships or positions available.

“She managed to bring me back on a research fellowship as a medical doctor.” It turned out to be one of those career pivots that defined her career.

“That’s where I fell in love with research,” Filippou-Frye says. “It’s why I made the choice to go back to school and get a master’s degree in business and science from the Keck Graduate Institute. If I didn’t keep that relationship for two years, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

The NCC ACRP event

Joining Filippou-Frye in presenting the topic at the Nov. 7 event is Patricia Kasper, MS, CCRA, a clinical research trainer and president of NCC ACRP with more than 20 years’ experience. UCSC Extension is a sponsor of the event, which is open to the clinical research community and draws clinical researchers, vendors, corporate sponsors, members of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and students. People will have the opportunity to announce job openings; others will introduce themselves and say what kind of work their looking for.

“It’s a great way to connect with people on the spot,” says Filippou-Frye who serves as treasurer of the volunteer organization. “This is a very exciting event because students can actually interact with people in their field. If they’re interested in getting into clinical research, they can find people from those companies. They can get information they can use and connect with people who can help them move forward professionally.”

Mastering the Art of Networking

WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6–8:45 p.m.
VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 3801 Miranda Ave., Main Building Auditorium, Palo Alto, CA 94304
COST: $5 for UCSC Extension students who show (through Canvas) that they are current students.

NOTE: This event is also a clothes and fund drive for veterans. Generosity is a great networking skill!

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