"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm supposed to "chat up" someone at lunch tomorrow

The lunch is for someone running for Congress (and likely to win). It's at a nice restaurant and being hosted by Other Think Tank Economist (and another actual Ph.D.! in economics ... ). A lobbyist/executive from Big Company will also be there. That's who I'm supposed to "chat up." Big Company, apparently, "would still like to play" in an area of interest to New Think Tank, "wanted to give" to Other Think Tank in the past, and is a potential donor for New Think Tank.

Think Tank Boss and Think Tank Boss's #2 have prior engagements. They're both pros at this sort of thing, but I'm not. Oh, there's plenty of "chatting up" that goes on in academe, especially at conferences, but it's different ...

... or, maybe not so different, as I'm sitting here thinking about it. In academe, you "chat up" people whom you want something from: attention, recognition, information, insight, a reference, a collaboration, a commitment. I guess the difference is that in academe, I more or less knew what I was talking about, but now I only have what I would consider a fairly superficial understanding of the issues.

So, strategy: Get the OTHER person to talk, establish a few points of common ground surrounding New Think Tank's areas of interest, suggest the possibility of working together, exchange business cards (we just got our new business cards for New Think Tank the other day!), and see if lobbyist/executive might want to set up a meeting. And then go "chat up" somebody else.

Huh. It's a actually a skill I'd like to get more practice at. It's valuable here in Crapitol City in ways that it isn't/wasn't in academe. In academe, what you know counts more. Here, it's who you know.


  1. Hmmm sounds like a good skillset to have to be honest..'chatting up'

    Good luck!!!

  2. So, yeah. That went reasonably well, and I didn't even have to talk too much. We got what we wanted. Lobbyist/executive at Big Company agreed to another meeting with New Think Tank people. Ze is bringing other people from Big Company, which is a good sign of their interest and money to follow ...

    Most of that lunch was actually all political blah blah talk, which was to be expected given that three of the attendees were the congressional candidate, hir campaign manager, and another congressman's chief of staff. I SO had to fake it! They all assumed I was a loyal Republican. I should have gotten my Ph.D. in theater!