Learning How To Network

Credit: flickr / dsevilla

I’m fairly outgoing – I mean, I moved to another country knowing basically no-one. And I coped. But it’s easy to meet people when you’re a student, and there are a lot of international students here who know what you’re going through. So it’s not been that hard for me to build a group of friends. Meeting people outside university though, is harder and scarier. It took me ages to connect with people I met at kickboxing outside the dojo, for example.

At my first conference (MCETECH), I met someone who suggested another conference (FOSSLC) and then I went to that as well. Another person at that conference followed me on Twitter, and we started interacting, and after a while, hanging out. And then I went along with her to an Ottawa tech event (Democamp – I blogged about it here), where I met some more people, discovered that there are a lot of tech events in Ottawa and also an easy way to find them.

Since then, I’ve been to Ignite and last night I went to Teamcamp. One of my friends went to Ignite, as well as one a guy I met at Democamp and had been interacting with on Twitter. Teamcamp was new, because I didn’t really know anyone there, although there were a couple of people who I’d talked to on Twitter. I nearly flaked, because I haven’t been feeling well all week, but I told myself to snap out of it and set off. And then I got lost in the rain because Google maps was confused.

But once I made it I had an awesome time, met some cool new people and really enjoyed myself. I’m really glad I went!

I guess I’ve accidentally given myself a crash course in “Networking”! Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Going with someone is fine, but try and come away with one or two new connections.
  • It’s OK if you’re not comfortable working a room, connecting with just a few people is still connecting.
  • Follow up – see how you can help someone and pass that information or contact on. Add them on Twitter and LinkedIn if you want to as well.
  • If you’re nervous, connect with people beforehand on Twitter. Find out the hashtag and tweet about it.
  • Be interesting – have something you’re working on that you can talk about. Be passionate about it!
  • Listen. You’ll have more to talk about later (and if you end up in the vicinity of a presenter, something to complement them on!)
  • Go for it! Most people are nice, and are probably going to these events hoping/expecting to meet people too.

Anything I’ve missed?

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