But it can start to sound very theoretical when you only hear about tips, techniques and advice on how to network, but don’t get a glimpse at what a real networking interaction looks like.
So, I’m here today to tell you a little story about a neat networking opportunity I had in a place you might least expect— a hot tub!
My labmates and I (six of us total who were attending Pittcon in Orlando, FL) spent the week in a 3-bedroom condo at a resort near the convention center.
After a long day of attending meetings, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with information. My labmates twisted my arm and convinced me to take a walk down to the pool and relax and unwind in the hot tub.
Okay, that’s a slight twist of the truth. In reality, the pool was calling out to me and I had to go.
Ahhhh, I can still recall the wonderful carefree feeling that came over me as I slipped into complete and utter relaxation mode…
But it apparently was difficult for me to turn off my networking impulses that were firing all day long at Pittcon. Yaknow, that feeling that I should introduce myself to the people around me, ask about what they do and tell them a little bit about myself.
Networking, specifically, wasn’t on my mind when I said hello to a man in the hot tub, as I stepped in and fully immersed myself in the hot, bubbly waters. I was just being cordial.
The next thing I know, we’re in an in-depth discussion about all kinds of neat things—starting off with our careers. It turns out he’s a consultant and was attending Pittcon to teach a short course and also connect with several of his clients at the Exposition.
Then the conversation turned to me and my interests. I told him I’m a graduate student and a science writer, and that I plan on completely switching gears into science writing after I graduate this May.
The cool part
Little did I know that this consultant happened to have a client who was in need of some technical writing assistance. He invited me to come by their booth at the Expo the next morning so that he could introduce me to the owners of the company and talk about the assignment.
I showed up, not knowing much about the company, and about 20 minutes later, I was signed up to write a document that highlights the features and benefits of their software.
I have my first freelance technical writing assignment lined up now—all thanks to a casual hot tub conversation.
Still to come—highlights from Pittcon 2012 networking session
If you’re a regular JAEP reader, you may know that I organized a networking session at Pittcon called “Chemistry Careers Beyond the Bench.” As promised, I’ll be writing about some the highlights from that session soon—so stay tuned!
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