What’s the best place to meet people when building your network as a software developer? Some examples include presentations, conferences, career fairs and/or hackathons. A really good way to find these things is meetup.com. The awesome thing about going to these sorts of events is that everyone there shares a common interest. I find the best events are the ones that are interesting even if they are not successful from a networking point of view. However, going to start up networking events can also be a lot of fun. In this article I would like to discuss five common scenarios that I have experienced at networking events.
Scenario 1: Watching a presentation. If you are attending a presentation my tip is to get there early and plan to stay after the presentation is over. When you get there, sit down next to someone and introduce yourself. Maybe it’s a talent scout looking for someone with your qualifications. If you are at an event with software developers a great question to ask to get the conversation going is “what software stack are you working on?”.
Scenario 2: Joining a group. If you are attending an event and everyone is standing around in groups all you need to do is walk up and stand next to the group (making sure to be seen by the person or people you are standing next to) and they will naturally make room for you. If it is a group of software developers they are very likely to be talking about something to do with software and chances are you will be able to contribute. If not just wait until you can politely change the topic to something you find interesting.
Scenario 3: Sharing contact details. When I was a student I used to think it would be rude to ask someone for their business card, especially if they have had many years of work experience. I thought they would offer it to me if they really wanted to stay in contact. I later learned this wasn’t true. If you find the conversation interesting and you would like to stay in touch with the other person the easiest way is to ask for their business card. It’s also the easiest way to finish a conversation if you were planning to meet more people or leaving.
Scenario 4: Leaving a boring conversation. I find this to be the most difficult part of networking. Ever been in a situation where the conversation is stale but no one wants to leave because they are worried about offending the other person? This could happen because the conversation was never interesting or you just run out of things to say to someone you have just met, which is completely ok. In a group it is usually quite easy to discreetly disappear. However, a one on one conversation is a little bit more tricky. In this situation I like to try and get the other person to join another group with me and then leave discreetly that way.
Scenario 5: Following up. This step is crucial if you have met someone who offered to help you get a job. I usually follow up the networking event with an email saying it was nice to meet them and I am really excited about applying for the company. Depending on the situation I might attach my CV. The idea is to increase the chances of being remembered.
What about you guys? What have your networking experiences been like? Do you have a better way of leaving a boring conversation? Let me know in the comments below!
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Last updated April 10th, 2017.