The Worth (and Work) of Networking

The concept of networking can seem obscure or even daunting at first. Jessica Marsack is a PhD student with the School of Nursing and Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan. She explains (with tips) that once you get started, the time you put in to networking leads to valuable rewards.


As a new (and current) graduate student I was often told to go to conferences, not only to learn about the newest research, but also to “network”. While this is a commonly used phrase, I find it is less commonly explained. There are certainly prescribed avenues for networking at conferences, such as meet and greet sessions or “speed dating” activities. However, I don’t believe networking has to be a formal encounter. While attending the 2016 conference of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), I informally asked if Dr. Peggy Chinn, one of the nursing summit leaders, would like to have dinner and chat about the conference. She agreed, and this actually turned into a dinner with the entire GLMA nursing section leadership board. At this dinner I learned about the opportunity to become a student representative on the GLMA nursing section leadership team, and eagerly accepted an invitation to join. As a student representative I have been involved in the behind the scenes work of a national organization, and learned new skills such as website design and conference planning considerations- none of which would have been possible without that initial networking opportunity.

“I don’t believe networking has to be a formal encounter. While attending the 2016 conference of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), I informally asked if Dr. Peggy Chinn, one of the nursing summit leaders, would like to have dinner and chat about the conference. She agreed, and this actually turned into a dinner with the entire GLMA nursing section leadership board”

Networking may seem intimidating to some- especially graduate students, who often suffer from “imposter syndrome”. Being surrounded by big names within the scientific community can be intimidating, and it may feel like you aren’t important enough for their time or attention. However, my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Scientific conferences are designed for people to discuss and share their work, so even the “big names” in your field are expecting people to engage them in discussion. Everyone I’ve networked with at conferences has been friendly and open to conversation, and suggested avenues for research or posed questions I had not considered. In this way, networking can provide opportunities for bettering yourself and your research. Your networking can also turn into new skills and opportunities that might not arise any other way.

“My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Scientific conferences are designed for people to discuss and share their work, so even the “big names” in your field are expecting people to engage them in discussion.”

If you’re feeling nervous, it can help to pick something concrete to start a conversation about. Ask a specific question about a poster presentation or talk your person of interest presented. If that question relates to your research, you can segue into talking about your work if that is your goal. If they aren’t presenting anything, simply asking people about their newest project or future research interests generally catches the focus of fellow scientific minds. These informal networking techniques can lead to new possibilities you may not achieve through other means. As intimidating as it may seem, both you and your research will benefit in the end- and you are worth it.

GLMA Mixer in San Francisco, March 10

BAPHR & GLMA Joint Mixer
San Francisco, CA
Friday, March 10, 2017
6:30pm – 8:30pm PST

We invite you to join us for a joint reception with Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights and GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality! Meet your colleagues and learn more about our work to improve the health and well-being of LGBT people!

Lookout Bar SF
3600 16th Street
(at Market Street)
San Francisco, CA 94114

Light appetizers will be provided.
BAPHR and GLMA members will also receive a drink ticket.

To RSVP, please email info@glma.org and be sure to include your name, credentials, email, and the names of any guests who will be attending.

See you on March 10, 2017 at Lookout Bar SF!

Lesbian Health Fund Call for Abstracts

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Lesbian Health Fund
Call for Abstract Submissions
Deadline: May 1, 2017

The Lesbian Health Fund (LHF), a program of GLMA, has its next grant cycle planned for Spring 2017. In honor of the victims of the Orlando shooting, this cycle will give preference to funding research focused on societal and domestic violence affecting sexual minority women or girls.

LHF is currently accepting proposals for research through May 1, 2017.

About LHF

Founded in 1992, the LHF has awarded more than $860,000 to fund 110 research grants on lesbian health, and is the only US research fund dedicated solely to the unique health needs of lesbians, other sexual minority women (SMW) and their families.

Today, LHF remains committed to improving the health of lesbians and other sexual minority women over the lifespan, from early childhood, through adolescence, and adulthood, including aging. There is still great need to understand how social determinants, especially race and ethnicity, influence the health and wellbeing of lesbians, other SMW and their families.

Priority Research Areas:

  • Understanding social, family and interpersonal influences as sources of stress or support
  • Eliminating inequalities in health care, including barriers to care, and improving quality of care and utilization rates
  • Development and testing of interventions to address mental and physical health needs of lesbians and other SMW, including but not limited to depression, identity related issues, eating disorders, substance abuse, obesity, cancer risks, cardiovascular disease and sexually transmitted infections
  • Sexual and reproductive health, including family & parenting issues

Many applications are for small projects ($10,000 – $20,000) structured to provide pilot data for subsequent research. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is expected, and priority is given to the best proposals with the greatest likelihood of securing future funding from other sources.

Proposals for the Spring 2017 grant cycle are due on May 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Click here for information on how to apply.  Click here for a list of previously funded grants.

Please forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested.  GLMA Board Members and LHF Advisory Committee Members or paid consultants are ineligible to submit grants.  Please contact us at lhf@glma.org, or 202-600-8037, ext. 304 with any questions.

Get Ready – 2017 Nursing Summit in Philadelphia – September 13th!

Your GLMA Nursing Section Leadership Team is planning another dynamite Nursing Summit, and we are eager to make sure that the day meets your expectations!  So we need to hear from YOU! Fill out our “Interest Form” to let us know your ideas, requests, suggestions!  The form is short and simple, but will give us very important information that we will take to heart (after all it is Valentine time!)

Here is the link to the form – it is a simple form but will provide an instant path to letting us know what your dream Summit would look like!  Our annual Summit has already become a lifeline for many LGBTQ nurses, and our allies who also thrive on the support and networking that this event provides!
So let us know your ideas – and we will keep you posted here!  Follow this blog to stay tuned!

2017 GLMA Nursing Summit – 1 Week from Today!

Yes — just one more week and the only gathering specifically for, about and by LGBTQ nurses and our allies is happening in St. Louis!  It is happening next week on Wednesday September 14 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark . You can see the planned program here!  Online registration is no longer available, but if you find that you can join glma_-_conferenceus, come on to St. Louis and you can register on Wednesday morning at the conference. The evening of the 14th is the opening reception for the GLMA conference, which offers amazing educational and inspirational programming for all healthcare providers, and more opportunities to network with LGBTQ colleagues from all healthcare disciplines.

Everyone who attends the Summit will have an experience of a lifetime – a whole day when our focus derives from, and fully expresses, the health concerns of LGBTQ people and their families.  In addition, we will explores ways that we can improve nursing care and the environment for LGBTQ people who enter healthcare situations either as patients or providers.

But the most important dimension of the Nursing Summit is simply the experience of being there, networking with friends and colleagues, meeting new people who share our concerns and taking whatever actions we can to improve nursing and health care for LGBTQ people.

If you can’t join us, subscribe to this blog, where we will share all sorts of information about the Summit, and will provide opportunities for everyone to become involved.  We will definitely post information about the dates and location of next year’s Summit – so that hopefully you can start planning now to be part of this important movement!  So stay tuned – these is much more to come!

Tonda Hughes to Keynote the 2016 Nursing Summit

GLMA Nursing Summit will be all day September 14, 2016 in St. Louis!  The GLMA Conference opens the evening of the 14th, with all of the fabulous programming through September 17th.  See the details for the conference here!

The 2016 GLMA Nursing Summit keynote speaker, Tonda Hughes, PhD, RN, FAAN will be sharing her experiences in developing her outstanding research career focusing on sexual minority women.  Her talk is titled “From gay bars to marriage equality: The evolution of research on sexual minority women’s health from one researcher’s perspective.” Dr. Hughes is Professor and Associate Dean for Global Health, College of Nursing, University of Illinois – Chicago, Research Director, UIC National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, and Co-Director, UIC Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH).

The theme of the 2016 Nursing Summit is: “Challenges of Advancing LGBTQ Health in Nursing: Finding Your Way.” The day will feature:

  • Opportunities to learn about initiatives in nursing education, practice, research and policy
  • Networking with activists engaged in advancing LGBTQ health in nursing
  • Celebration of past accomplishments, and the potential for making change in nursing and healthcare to improve LGBQ health!

Watch this blog and our GLMANursing.org website to see the details as they emerge!  We hope you will plan to join us! Questions? Go to our online contact form!

Submit your proposal for 2016 GLMA Nursing Summit!

Our 2016 GLMA Nursing Summit will include a number of breakout sessions to address the many interests, issues and concerns related to LGBTQ nurses, nursing care, education, research, policy — you name it, we hope to cover it all!  YOU can be a vital part of this by presenting a session on a topic that you want to share with others!  Use this handy form to let us know how you would like to be involved!  Fill out the form by March 20, and we will let you know if your proposal is accepted by April 15th!

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