Tuesday, November 01, 2011

the step-12 program for academic success!

The 12-Step Program for Academic Success
Step Four:
Schmoozing


The importance of schmoozing can hardly be underestimated, and it hardly ever is.

The true questions are when, how, and to whom to schmooze.

WHEN: Always schmooze. There is no inappropriate time. For men, one of the best times is when you happen to meet your schmoozee at a lavatory urinal. This is ideal, because obviously the schmoozee cannot make too hasty an exit. He is, as it were, all ears (he certainly won't let his eyes wander).

HOW: Introduce yourself, giving your name and your academic affiliation. If you have ever seen the schmoozee before, mention it (e.g.: "Professor Whitehead, nice to see you. My name is Chris Nagel, from Duquesne University. I saw you catching a bus once, in February of 1937"). Mention any publication of the schmoozee that you have read -- in case the schmoozee asks about it --, regardless of its importance. Also, in mentioning the schmoozee's published work, be sure to indicate how it has advanced your own (e.g.: "I read your limerick about the man from Nantucket in the middle toilet stall the other day. It has made a big difference in how I interpret ideal essences!"). Finally, end your conversation with an open-ended allusion to a deeper, continued relationship; however, be cautious not to appear too subservient or obsequious.
DO: "We should discuss this in more depth later. Enjoy the session on 'Evidentiary Ethical Postulates and Undecidability in Relation to Really Uninteresting Stuff'!"

DON'T: "I'm in room 1409. If you'd like, tonight, if you're feeling... lonely... you could come up. Any time. I'll be there... alone... all night."

TO WHOM: Appropriate schmoozing depends on your own academic position more than the schmoozee's. Say you are a graduate student Ph.D. candidate at a second tier (at best) private, Catholic university east of the Mississippi that is not named "Loyola." From this vantage point, everyone is good to schmooze (e.g.: "Say, you work for the custodial crew of the hotel, don't you? I just wanted to tell you that your interpretation of vacuuming and emptying ash-trays has genuinely helped me understand Sartre's third ekstasis of being for-self. I was wondering if you could score me one of those leftover boxes of Zinfandel").

1 comment:

Robert Kirkman said...

I'm glad to see this series back in print, as it were. It brings back semi-fond memories of shmoozaramathons past, or at least fond memories of snarking about schmoozaramathons.

I'm now convinced one of the keys to happiness is to find better conferences to go to.