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Don't Say That

Networking isn't always a pleasant experience for researchers, says Benchfly's Alan Marnett, especially as it can often seem like a waste of time when there are more pressing things to be done in the lab. However, he says, "nothing could be further from the truth," as networking can help you land a job or make important contacts. However, Marnett adds that there are some topics to avoid during conversation — namely sex, politics, economics, religion, and the military, which conveniently form an acronym, SPERM — as they might be socially "sensitive." As it's imperative to make a good first impression when networking, Marnett lists some potentially uncomfortable opening lines to avoid. He says it's probably best not to begin a professional conversation with any of the following:

"I had to come over and meet you — you look just like a girl I used to stalk."

"Sorry my hand's wet — they're out of towels in the men's room."

"I'll be honest, I've never met a single person I liked at one of these things."

"Wow, this is the last time I have Mexican food before a networking event — if you know what I mean…"

"I read this article that says I'm not supposed to talk about sperm, so I'm not sure what else there is to talk about."