Facilitating Networking Through Technology

Erika Stevens

Clinical Researcher—January 2021 (Volume 35, Issue 1)


Erika Stevens, MA


Does technology facilitate networking? While more video conferencing platforms flood the market to enable interactive meeting collaboration, omitted is the camaraderie gained through non-digital interaction.

Technology-enabled business meetings may close the distance gap and reduce travel inefficiencies, but few address the social interface gained through physical proximity. Recall from your memory: mingling, meeting new contacts, seeing old colleagues and friends, “meet and greets,” and happy hours. Less than one year ago, these forms of social interaction were everyday occurrences. Missing today is the ability to shake hands, split an appetizer, or embrace a longtime friend.

Leveraging technology innovation for presentations, on-screen chats, exchange of ideas, and decision making facilitates many former face-to-face business meeting operations. None of these capabilities provides an adequate replacement for tangible connectivity gained through interaction. The subtle nuances garnered through gestures and facial expressions are often unseen in virtual forums. In the absence of in-person meetings, restricted social gatherings, and fear of human contact, we are forced to plod along on screen.

While imperfect, virtual interaction allows increased frequency for sharing ideas and information. We continue to develop agility with multiple applications and improve social interfaces. Some unnoticed, nonverbal cues providing connotation clarity remain vague, but we evolve and adapt.

As the world pandemic brings the clinical research industry into public view, it further bolsters the value of membership in the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). At the same time, sustained infection rates cause notable concern and impede networking. For example, on January 15, ACRP received notice of cancellation of our planned 2021 conference from the city of Toronto due to COVID-related concerns.

Disappointingly, another year will pass where fellow ACRP members are not able to meet in person. Like my ACRP Association Board of Trustees colleagues, I will miss seeing you in person in Toronto this spring. Instead, we look forward to gathering virtually and facilitating dynamic networking opportunities. Your valiant efforts support the therapies to combat illnesses plaguing society. Thank you for your membership with ACRP.

I wish you all the best jusqu’a la prochaine fois (until the next time).

Erika Stevens, MA, has more than 20 years’ experience in the research industry, is the 2021 Chair of the Association Board of Trustees for ACRP, and leads Transformation Advisory Solutions for Recherche Transformation Rapide. She advises life sciences companies, health systems, academic medical centers, foundations, hospitals, and contract research organizations in process improvement initiatives for quality and efficiency in operations, cross-functional relationships, administration, manufacturing, and compliance. Her earlier volunteer duties with ACRP include service as Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board, a member of the Conference Planning Committee, and President of the New York Metropolitan Chapter.