This week I’m spending some drive time thinking about how we might improve networking at SQLSaturday and that led to me thinking about the general state of networking within PASS. Some early thoughts on networking in general:
- It’s not enough to put people in a room and say “network”
- It’s not enough to put like minded people in a closed environment for a day either
- Extroverts will generally do better at meeting people than introverts, but even the extroverts will tend to focus on learning (good) and interacting with people they know more than people they don’t know
- Networking is a good thing, with the understanding that time invested in networking is a gamble – you never know if or how it will benefit you or the other person
- Few people carry business cards
- Networking should be optional, but lightly encouraged and facilitated
- Many people are nervous about networking (and just saying hello)
- Almost everyone in our business is capable of good conversation and/or small talk
- It’s interesting to meet “famous” people in the industry
- Small conversations can sometimes shape you in large ways
- Traditions help, events help
- LinkedIn is (to me) the most reasonable way to track/catalog your professional network
- Networking skills can be taught fairly easily but require practice
- Events/dinners/etc have to be designed with networking in mind
- Especially for an introvert (me) knowing people makes an event more fun, more relaxing
- Introverts require quiet time to recharge
- We don’t talk enough about the smaller benefits of networking
- Its easy to stay in the comfort zone of talking to people we already know
- As a speaker, it’s common to watch people sit apart if they don’t know anyone and to watch everyone “face front” as if to avoid possibly interacting with someone next to them
I don’t have any big ideas yet. In Part 2 I’ll talk about my networking education and goals, and the history of the networking page.
2 thoughts on “Improving Networking at PASS Events–Part 1”
From what I have seen, the easiest way to encourage networking is also probably the most painful for introverts (like myself). That is assigned seating at functions. Usually this is for dinners or lab sessions only since those generally have tables where name cards can be set. While many still will not actively interact with those around them at first, it does take the introverts out of their comfort zones and after repeated occurrences, some light conversation is bound to occur and it works best with introverts in short doses. As you mentioned, we need our quiet time to recharge and reflect. It is basically the school principle of seating people with strangers to force social interactions that hopefully turn into friendships/collaborations/etc.
Ken, that’s a really good idea, thanks for taking time to share. Its funny I had noted meals as a hotspot for networking, but totally missed the seating idea. Hoping to write the next installment for Monday.
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