A Wallflower’s Guide to Networking

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Some tech pros love networking; they’ll merrily spend hours shaking hands and meeting new people. Others would jump through flaming hoops, while being pursued by tigers, in order to avoid attending a meet-up or industry get-together.

For those who fall into the second group, here are some tips for dipping a toe into the big (and sometimes scary) world of professional networking:

Start Slow: A massive network isn’t built overnight. If you hit two or three networking events in a row, and only come away with one or two good contacts, don’t consider that a failure; it’s only through practice that you’ll create something substantial. But you have to commit to practicing.

Take a Friend or Colleague: Going to networking events with a partner of some sort can make things significantly less awkward.

Start Close: Talking to strangers can be intimidating. Having a friend or colleague introduce you to a mutual acquaintance can be a great way to bypass at least some of the awkwardness associated with meeting someone for the first time.

Start With a Mission: Despite their energy, some extroverts fail at networking because they go to events without a firm plan, meet a bunch of people, and then leave without much to show for their time. Contrast that with someone who goes to an event with a plan (“Meet three people and get their email,” etc.) in mind, which ensures a much more productive use of time.

The great thing about networking is that literally anyone can do it… with a little preparation.

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