Career Network for student Scientists and Postdocs at Yale

Creating a platform for discussion of scientific careers

Leave Them Wanting More

To the CNSPY Community,

This is a bittersweet moment, as I announce that this will be my last post here on the CNSPY Blog. I created the blog two years ago to offer advice and insight to others looking to improve their networking skills and expand their professional networks. I hope that it has been helpful to you in your journeys to find your next career steps, and as this post discusses, I hope that I have succeeded in “Leaving you wanting more!” It has been an absolute pleasure serving you, and I am happy to pass on the reigns to the new Director of Communications and CNSPY Blogger, Lydia Hoffstaetter, who will be bringing you further insights and advice going forward.            

~Victoria Schulman

 

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation that seemed to die off, leaving everyone awkwardly staring at one another trying to figure out what to do or say next? With long awkward pauses, everyone desperately looks for a way out that won’t be viewed as impolite. These situations are networking nightmares because all the other person wants to do is get away from you (quickly!), which is the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish at the networking event.

If someone is desperately trying to get away from you at a networking event, they probably won’t want to talk to you via email afterwards either. In fact, they’re probably hoping that they can just get away from you and never have to worry about interacting with you again because the initial meeting was so uncomfortable.

This is clearly the opposite of what you want to accomplish at a networking event.

In contrast, we want the other person to leave wanting more. We want them to wish they had more time to talk to us so that they could learn more about us and/or our work. If they feel as though they didn’t quite get a chance to finish the conversation or ask all of their questions, they will be more inclined to engage in email correspondence with us later.

So we need to leave them always wanting more. How do we do that?

One way to accomplish this task is to only briefly mention certain topics in your discussion. Of course, be sure to give enough detail to explain your points and/or projects to get them interested, but there’s no need to divulge ALL the details.

For example, if someone is interested in learning about a technique you’re using, give enough detail to explain the premise and the concept of the protocol, but leave out the nitty gritty details and offer to send them your typed up protocol later. This keeps them interested for the time being and encourages them to seek you out for further information later.

Similarly, if you’ve taken on an extracurricular project – let’s say you’ve started a blog – you can, and should, voluntarily mention this side project in your conversation, directing people to the blog’s website if they want to read more. By giving them a brief description of the point of your blog – maybe it’s a blog about emerging trends in biotechnology within the context of financial gain – you give them enough information to get interested in looking it up without spilling all the details. Then later, after they look at the blog, and assuming they liked what they saw, they will more than likely contact you. (Alternatively, after the conversation at the networking event, you can reach out to them to provide them with a direct link, making it easier for them to find and view your content.)

After these strategically planned conversations, you’re sure to receive follow-up emails from those individuals later wherein you can continue your conversation and potentially shift the dialogue, turning this new connection into a potential job lead for you – because, as we’ve pointed out before, if you give value to someone first, they are more willing to help you in return.

Another way to leave them wanting more is to merely end the conversation somewhat prematurely. Not abruptly, but prematurely – there is a difference.

If you can’t find a way to steer the conversation towards something that allows you to leave out a few crucial details that the other person wants or needs, you can always leave a little be desired by not overstaying your welcome.

Let’s say you’ve introduced yourself and briefly spoken about your work, background, and goals going forward, as has the person with whom you’re speaking. After a few additional minutes, you can sense that the conversation might be heading towards one of those awkward pauses where neither party knows what to do and the desperate need to get away quickly starts to creep up. If this happens, you need to abort the conversation – fast!

You can do this by politely excusing yourself. For example, say, “Well, it was a pleasure meeting you, but if you’ll excuse me, I need to use the ladies room. I’ll definitely be in touch with you later though about that XYZ program though!”

This is a perfectly acceptable reason to leave a conversation, and it doesn’t leave the other person thinking ill of you – who can argue with basic biological needs? You’ve provided a natural ending to the conversation, giving permission to all involved to go off and strike up new conversations with no hard feelings in either direction.

Importantly though, when you give excuses like this, you need to do so confidently. Don’t sound apologetic in your comment – this just perpetuates the awkwardness. Instead, just state quite matter-of-factly with a smile on your face that it was indeed nice to meet them but you must be moving along, however, you’ll be in touch later to follow-up on XYZ that they mentioned.

It is much better to abandon a conversation that isn’t going well than to hang around and overstay your welcome, which invites long awkward pauses into the mix, leaving everyone desperately trying to find ways to leave the conversation. If, instead, you proactively and confidently end the conversation a little short of what you were hoping for, this avoids those awkward moments and gives you a second chance to continue the conversation later over email, where the dialogue is hopefully less difficult to carry on.

These types of techniques can be employed in a number of different scenarios, too. For example, if you are giving a seminar, leave out a few details and invite interested parties to come find you afterwards. Alternatively, if you are trying to encourage participation in a program or event you’re hosting, provide enough information up front to garner interest, but leave out the details about the highlights or featured presentation to entice would-be participants to attend your function.

There are many situations in which leaving a little to be desired is a beneficial tactic. Thus, we should use this strategy more in our professional lives because if you leave people wanting more from you, you will never be short on networking connections and career opportunities. So don’t play all your cards at once and don’t overstay your welcome. Hold a little bit back to encourage further conversation later.

 

** Leave them wanting more at the next event you attend and let us know how it goes! **

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful suggestions. I need to practice them. Thank you Vickie for sharing your ideas for these last two years. Wish you the best at your new position.

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