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How to Use SLAS to Find People Who Can Help You

The life sciences field is incredibly dynamic and for most in the SLAS community it is often difficult to stay current with topics of interest. When you want help or information or just somebody who’ll toss around ideas with you, one of your most valuable resources can be SLAS. It’s a point of pride and a practical fact – SLAS is a portal to thousands of knowledgeable, uniquely experienced and friendly professionals who value their connections to other SLAS members.

By Scott Atkin

The annual SLAS conference provides an excellent opportunity for our community to interact and share knowledge and experiences.  Meeting and greeting conference attendees before and after educational sessions, during receptions or at morning coffee breaks can yield important contacts and possibly even lifelong friendships, but I know the process can be intimidating for some people. I like to think of other members of the SLAS community as friends I haven’t yet met, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that the risk is well worth the reward.

While it’s obvious that SLAS conferences are a goldmine of opportunity, intelligent network building with SLAS isn’t limited to face-to-face encounters. There are easy ways to connect with other members every day of the year.

Among SLAS’s most readily available resources are its content contributors. Every peer-reviewed paper published in SLAS Discovery and SLAS Technology includes corresponding author contact information so readers who have questions or want to learn more can reach out and ask! SLAS has 21 years’ worth of keyword-searchable scientific reports whose authors likely would be flattered to hear from you.  

Likewise, podium speakers and poster presenters remain accessible long after SLAS conferences end. Their contact information can be found in the SLAS Member Directory for the same reason – so other SLAS members can use them as resources. If you can’t find them in the directory, contact SLAS headquarters. Our SLAS Professional Team Is another resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. They stand at the ready; willing and happy to take your calls and field your inquiries. Give them a ring or shoot them an e-mail. If they don’t immediately have the answers you need, I am confident they’ll do what they can to help find them.

The SLAS members who serve as volunteers on our journal editorial boards, conference program committees and other SLAS committees also are people you should feel more than welcome to contact; as are the members you read about in the SLAS Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood e-zine. Don’t be shy! These folks have volunteered to serve in these positions and be featured in our e-zine because the SLAS community is important to them – and you are the SLAS community! Try this: go to the e-zine, search ‘networking’ and see how many articles pop up. You might be surprised (but you shouldn’t be!).

Some SLAS programs exist exclusively to connect members with other members. The three best examples are:

SLAS Special Interest Groups. It’s through SIGs that many SLAS members find informal opportunities to exchange thoughts and ideas, ask questions, share interesting links and collaborate via LinkedIn groups.

SLAS Career Connections. More than a job board, this program actively helps job seekers find contacts and information, and helps employers find new talent.

The MarketPlace at Product and service providers are important contributors to the SLAS community. Search the MarketPlace by company name, product category and keywords, then connect with representatives from companies that offer potential solutions.

Also online 24/7/365 are all the social media sites that the world has come to know and love. SLAS forums on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Americas, LinkedIn Europe and YouTube have more than 21,000 friends, fans and followers. Like you, these are living, breathing people who are deeply vested and experienced in life sciences discovery and technology.

Intelligent network building is more than a buzz-phase – it’s a way of life for many professionals. It’s also a two-way street. The best networkers are those willing to give as much as they get. Keep the adage “pay it forward” in mind if a fellow SLAS member reaches out to you with a question. By helping others succeed, you can increase your own knowledge, expand your frame of reference and widen your circle of friends. On a personal level I can assure you the rewards are many.  Professional acquaintances from 20+ years ago have evolved into friendships and one of the many benefits of attending the conference each year is the opportunity to see so many great people in person.


March 27, 2017