Tips for Talking to Scientists (and other fun people)

Are you registered for Networking @ Nite? Wondering what to expect? What to say? How to follow up?

Networking events can be a little awkward, but this event is designed to be low stress. Networking @ Nite may not be as formal as a career fair or a conference, but it is still useful to reflect on your goals and a potential action plan for the evening.

Networking @ Nite, like most other networking mixers, will consist of many small groups of folks, chatting about themselves and their experiences. For this particular event, NSM alumni will be stationed at tables set up around the 5th floor of ECS and you will have 3-5 minutes to chat with each alum. You’ll approach one of the alumni, take a seat, chat, and repeat.

Some tips to help you prepare for any networking event:

Know your energy and how you approach others best. I believe this is the most important factor when attending these types of events. Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel more confident approaching large groups, smaller groups, or individuals?
  • Would I prefer to tag along with a friend to help ease the start-of-event jitters?
  • Is hanging out at the snack table my initial plan of attack? (Yes, it is OK to start here! But, you eventually want to move away from the table.)
  • What does success look like for me at this event? How many alumni should I chat with? (ex. “My goal is to talk to at least 3 people at this event and get their business cards. If I meet more than 3, great. If not, I met my goal.”)

When entering the conversation, you might say:

  • “Hi! May I join in on your conversation?”
  • “I overheard XYZ, do you mind if I join you?”
  • “Hello! I’ve been meaning to introduce myself to you. I saw that your research interests are ABC/you are doing XYZ conservation work. I’d love to hear more about it!”
  • “Hi! I am a Research Assistant/XYZ major and am looking to connect with scientists in XYZ. Tell me a little bit about the work you are doing!”

Having a strong personal introduction can also be useful. Be sure to check out these two blog posts to help you get started!

Gracefully exiting conversations can be challenging. Some guidance:

  • Be courteous and professional, but don’t be afraid to end the conversation. These events are designed to help you meet quite a few people in a short period of time, and the other attendees tend to be aware of this as well.
  • “Thank you so much for your time! I’m excited to continue the conversation. Would you be open to sharing your contact/LinkedIn information with me?”
  • “Thank you for chatting with me! I see a researcher I’ve been meaning to introduce myself to, but I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and hope we can connect again soon.”

I hope this helps you begin thinking about what to expect at a networking event, and ideas on what you might want to say. We are so excited to see you on the 28th!

By Kimberly English
Kimberly English Career Advisor Kimberly English