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Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Business Time

I am one of them now. One of those rep-like people who, knock on your office door and interrupt your work day. Vendors?! Most of the time, if I needed it, I’d already had it. Just Google it. Now I’m standing on the outside of the door. I knock.

The ‘big meetings’ scheduled by higher-ups come later this month, so no sense going back and forth around the globe, but what to do here and now? I’m in the US, when I want to be in China doing medchem. Here is my past, there is my future…and very anxious to continue there. But not yet. It’s business time. ‘BD’…business development, mysterious and new for scientists, but integral for a small company. Talk to current clients, make sure they are happy. Talk with new contacts, turn them into current clients. “What’s a client?!” asks the scientist. I’m not slick. I’m not persuasive. I’m probably borderline asocial. But having big pharma experience and native English ability, I can talk client language on two levels…eventually. Find out what they are doing and how to help them do it. That’s admirable, something to hang on to in this strange territory that feels as different as China.

I try to set things up online as much as possible. Linkedin is excellent. It’s fascinating to reconnect with past co-workers, and this part rocks. I remember faces, stories as I invite more and more former co-workers/friends. So strangely satisfying to see the connections count rise. Why didn’t I do this before? Soon, though, it’s time to venture into the brick and mortar world.

I’m at a new site. Everything is new and high end, furniture, d├ęcor, plasma monitors, new people. An old friend. He introduces me to a major mind there. The kind initiating multiple start-ups. He stands tall, with a pleasant demeanor and warm handshake, sharp quick eyes. We chat a bit, but I’m nervous. I’m not in the conversation. I’m too busy thinking. I should say something BD-like. I forget the names of people we probably both know. Awkward silence and it’s done. Business hours are over. I forget to give him a card. The next meetings are more fruitful. Since I’m not salesman, better to be myself, just a chemist. Meet intelligent interesting people working on cool projects and see what I can do back in China to help them make those projects successful. BD the science way.

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