One of those technical blogs recently posted something interesting in my field of expertise, so I sent the writer an email to comment. It turns out the that organizer of the blog is also an alum of World's Best School, and was very interested to hear about my work. After a couple emails back and forth, she mentioned that there is a monthly meeting in my area of people in microfluidics. She sent me an invite to the next montly meeting. How cool!
From what I could tell, this was purely a networking event. Industry, academia, startups, you name it. Oh gees. Such a nerve-wracking event for an engineer.
But I thought, you know, I've been becoming much better at these types of things. I've taken business classes. I've been to a few conferences. I'm learning to present myself well, and I've seen how networking can be valuable to keep contacts alive. I mean come on, networking can't be that hard, the business kids all do it! :)
I went last night to the event, and I just wanted to report that I am very proud of myself. I did everything right. I showed up just a bit after the start time, so there were already some people there. I remembered right before I left to grab my business cards. I introduced myself to people without hesitation, I was charming and friendly (if I do say so myself...), and everybody I met I had a good conversation with. Score for the engineer!
At the end of the night, I had met several truly useful people for me to know. I saw a handful of faces I already knew, which was encouraging. And I ended up with two business cards from people who want to come take a tour of my lab and see my work. Apparently, people in industry and people on the applications side of the field really do like to meet people on the manufacturing side. There are far fewer people in manufacturing than there are on the biology/chemistry side. Yay for a marketable skill set. :)
A couple people even inquired when I would finishing my PhD, to see if I was in a position to be looking at joining a startup... which is of course one of the things I would eventually like to do. So, career opportunities lining up...
This whole experience, of course, is not helping my blog-reading habit. :)