5 tips to make them work best for you.
Networking. Ugh. The very word conjures up images of sports jacketed dweebs pressing business cards into each others’ sweaty palms in a cheesy hotel ballroom. You might think that, if you want to stay busy doing what you love (or you need to add talent to your own business), that’s the bullet you’ll have to bite. Not so. A few organizations in the Portland and Denver/Boulder tech sectors have figured how to make networking so fun and easy you won’t even know you’re doing it. It won’t feel like work—unless you consider hoisting a pint of beer to be work…
Unlike those stuffy hotel events, the scene at these tech sector events is casual and unpretentious. Located at interesting eateries or taprooms, they encourage attendees to ease naturally into productive conversation. Of course, there’s a very coherent method at work. Not only is it easier to meet people, but those individuals are more likely to let their guard down, allowing you to see how well they’ll play with your team. Another plus: you can usually get in at a low cost—often just the price of a beverage. The trick is to make room for serendipity. Keep your eyes open and you might also find a running partner (or a date!) right along with a paying gig.
Four must-attend events:
Read on to learn about four networking events taking place in November. Each one is carefully crafted to put you in the same room with other like-minded people and get you talking.
Ever notice how fragmented the tech community can be? We decided to do something about it. Portland’s New Tech Society, brings together a diverse group of technologists from a variety of backgrounds and industries to “imbibe, collaborate, rinse and repeat” at a local bar.
Since its beginnings in 1999, PDXMindShare has evolved into one of Portland’s premier get-togethers for technology professionals.
Boulder Denver New Tech meets each first and third Thursday of every month. Five presenters are given five minutes to demo a tech project they’ve been working on, followed by five minutes of audience Q&A. Time is set aside for networking before and after the event.
Smile! It’s Monday! So goes the rallying cry of Mobile Monday. This 10-year-old global community with chapters in Boulder and Denver connects developers and other professionals in the mobile industry for networking and to share ideas.
How to get the most from your experience:
Google the phrase “networking tips and tricks” and you’ll get over 500,000 hits. Our advice? Skip all that and keep these basic guidelines in mind:
Expect a little. Offer a lot. Instead of jumping into the action to get leads, why not try giving them? As you move about the room, you might be able to connect two people who haven’t met, but should. When you help other people connect and get to know each other, they’ll do the same for you.
Cut the jargon. You’re going to meet people with a variety of job titles and skill sets, so be sure to talk in plain English. When you first meet, be ready to describe what you do in the simplest terms possible. (You might even want to practice on, say, your mom.)
Listen. When someone is talking to you, maintain eye contact and avoid the urge to scan the room no matter how dull he or she might be, because you never know how that person could help you later on. Ask open-ended questions—especially those that make use of the words “Why?” or “How?”— and then pay attention. You might learn more than you thought possible.
Know your limits. Alcohol often flows freely (or at least cheaply) at these events, so be careful. Have a good time, but remember that your next boss or partner might be in the room too.
Most importantly, have fun. Keep an open mind. Prepare to be amazed at the magic that can happen over a pint of beer and a friendly chat.
Tech professionals flock to cities like Portland, Boulder and Denver, not just for the job opportunities, but also for the beer, bikes and year-round outdoor recreation. Since our professional life and social life overlap anyway, why not make it official? Catch one of these cool networking events and have a good time getting to know people just like you.