If you are attending the upcoming SQLRally event, one thing that you need to prepare for a little is the networking. No, I’m not talking about networking computers. Networking is the process of meeting and interacting with people in a professional setting, all in the interest of making contacts for a potential long term mutual benefit.
If you are the shy type or maybe a little introverted, the thought of meeting a bunch of strangers might scare you. Here are some tips to help you with this:
- Learning to network is both a skill and an art form. Everyone has their own approach and the more you do it, the better you get at it.
- Always have your business cards with you. Not having your card with you makes it harder to exchange contact information. Furthermore, the card serves as a reminder for us to follow up.
- Don’t be shy. If you see someone at an event or in the hall and they look approachable, walk up and introduce yourself. Odds are, you probably have a lot of things in common with that person.
- Engage in small talk. “So do you have any SQL Server 2000 left in your environment?” or, “What do you think about the NoSQL movement?” or, “What’s your favorite SQL 2012 feature?” Small talk leads to meaningful conversation.
- Think quality, not quantity. You can’t meet everyone at the conference. You should be able to remember one detail or thing about each person your meet. That’s a good connection. To help you remember you can write details on the back of their business card, but NOT in front of them. I like to do it at the end of the mixer event or at the end of the day while my memory is still fresh.
- Make it a goal meeting a specific number of people each day. That’s quantifies it and forces you to action.
Follow up. This is where most people fail in the networking process. They neglect to follow up. Typically you should follow up within 24 hours. But at events like SQLRally, you can relax that and typically follow up early the next week. Why? There’s just no time and everyone is in the same boat in terms of following up on meeting lots of people. Plus, when you get home, you will probably be tired and want to spend time with your family. Don’t wait too long, though as it could send the wrong message that your connection was not valuable.
Take the opportunity to expand your professional network when you attend SQLRally. You won’t be sorry.