[disability as a networking skill]
When abroad I use a wheelchair because it’s quite a hassle to take a tricycle with you on an airplane. When I visit conferences on my own I cannot use a wheelchair because my left hand doesn’t work (and I don’t want to go in circles all the time). Being on foot at a conference can be a challenge for me because often you have to cover distances of over 100 or 200 meters in between speaker sessions for which you only have five minutes. It is also challenging when the conference-organised lunch consists in a DIY buffet, because I can’t even walk with a cup of coffee in my hands; let alone with a tray filled with food! I often have to ask total strangers for help. This can be a bit of a nuisance because I like being independent. But on the other hand it is also a great advantage because it allows me to come into contact with other conference-goers (without being obtrusive) whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise. In short: it allows me to extend my academic network.