Erose Sthapit

Strong networks: Best resource for conference planning

The Haaga-Helia Business Innovation Conference (HHBIC) 2020 is the first scientific conference organised by the Research, Development and Innovation Support Services. Given the corona virus pandemic and in the light of current global travel restrictions, the originally planned face-to-face conference is now scheduled to take place online this November 17-18.

The theme for the HHBIC 2020 is Entrepreneurship for a better future. The conference accepts three different types of contributions: abstract, extended abstract and full paper.

In my role as a member of the editorial team, a key task was to tap into my network to promote the event and particularly to attract authors to submit contributions to the conference. Other tasks included looking for competent reviewers to assess the novelty, importance and quality of each contribution and to find, test and implement a flexible and easy to use conference management system. For the former, I was able to recruit numerous international researchers, all members of my network and experts in the field of entrepreneurship. In terms of the later, through my networks I found a conference platform suitable for handling the overall review process.

I heavily promoted HHBIC 2020 in my international research and education community and received help from a network that I have built and maintained very systematically and actively from the start of my career. I mainly used my social media accounts to connect with the network members.

One cannot emphasise enough the significance of strong networks in planning and organising a conference. Strong personal networks are the most powerful resource in leveraging the benefit for HHBIC 2020. Being part of a tightly knit community and the goodwill established within the network has served as a lubricant that not only enabled to get the tasks done, but super-charged the conference preparations to get tasks done well. How cool is that?

Organising a conference requires tapping into one’s professional connections and is heavily people driven. In other words, strong networks allow the sharing of information and receiving assistance that are extremely crucial in making a conference reality. Witty networking offers also an opportunity to build connections into strong bonds — new personal and professional connections with researchers from around the globe.

Besides building a strong network, it is equally important to maintain and strengthen the network. This involves a deliberate act of creating, freshening, and strengthening links between members, instead of just handing out and collecting business cards.

Connections open doors to people. One just has to have the genuine willingness and determination to make and keep meaningful connections and a game plan for what to accomplish, before diving in. It is beneficial to spend time investing in new, promising contacts. It is also ok to drift apart from some people to make room for others.

Chances are that one is good at pouring a disproportionate amount of effort into requesting favours and information from one’s network and not taking the time to thank the individual behind it. One of the ways to make sure that all connections feel valued is not sending mass-emails but focusing on making the message personal. In addition, the use of social media networking sites, particularly Facebook, is extremely useful as it allows a deeper, more meaningful conversation and thus, helps to establish and build a mutually beneficial relationship with professional connections.

Overall, it is not about how many connections you have in LinkedIn, which is what some may think sufficient. It is about building the best resource to count on. It is about how important it is to be part of a strong, rock-solid network waiting there for you – because trust me, you will need it one day.


The author works as a Research, Development and Innovation Specialist at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences