A reader writes,
I had a question that I'm not sure has been addressed [on the Cocoon]. One of the pieces of advice given in Lin's article you've referenced is, "Good academic reputation. Benchmark: there exist people whom you haven’t met before, but who have known your name and had rough ideas about your work." Something this brings to mind is developing networks among other scholars in your area of specialization or on the particular problems on which you work. I am a near-PhD (my dissertation has been approved and will be submitted in the next couple of weeks) and my advisor has suggested other scholars to contact since they work on similar topics. This is a wonderful idea, but I realize I have no clue of how to introduce myself in that context via email. What would you, or your readers, suggest as a proper way of initial introducing yourself in such a situation?
Great question! I was given similar advice after I received my first job, and I too was unsure of how to properly go about it--and, in fact, I'm sad to say, I put off actually doing it for another year or two. One good thing to do, if you have the resources, is to just start going to more specialist conferences in your area, as these are great places to meet people working in your area. Another thing you can do, however--and I've done it myself with varying levels of success--is to simply email people whose work you're interested in, tell them you admire their work (briefly demonstrating in your email that you do in fact know their work), and sort of feel out whether they're willing and interested to converse on the topic over email, swap working papers, read a draft of a paper of yours that you're hoping to publish, etc. Finally, I would really suggest developing a greater online presence. I've been a contributor at various blogs--Brains, Flickers of Freedom, Experimental Philosophy, and Public Reason--for a number of years (since just after graduate school), and they've provided excellent opportunities to get to know people.
What do you all think? Do you have any suggestions/experience in this area that you've found helpful? If so, I'm sure this reader, and other readers with similar questions, would be interested to hear of it!