Put away your cell phone, and other helpful tips from 3 networking experts

June 20, 2018

The amount of networking opportunities in Boston’s tech community can be overwhelming: If you wanted to, you could go to multiple events every evening!

Since that’s crazy, we asked a few local networking experts for tips on how to choose which events are worth your time — and how to make the most of them once you’re there.

 

cloudhealth
Photo via Cloudhealth

CloudHealth Technologies Director of Human Resources Kristen Tronsky said it’s important to put away your cell phone at events so that you seem more approachable. 

 

How do you choose which networking events to attend?

It’s helpful to dial in on what makes sense based on what you’re hoping to get out of the event. If you’re looking to build a wide network of contacts across functions in the tech world, check out industry-specific events like TechJam, Boston Business Journal events, Mass Innovation Nights or WeWork Programs. If you’re looking to network with other professionals in your specific field, hit up more targeted events with panel topics that are meaningful to you, many of which will share the attendee list afterward for easy networking via email or LinkedIn. If you can’t find something relevant, try talking to your company about hosting an event and take action to help get the right people together.

 

What are your top dos of professional networking?

Bring business cards and give them out as it makes sense. Let your network know that you’re going in advance by sharing the event on LinkedIn. Put yourself out there in a confident and professional way, and follow up with the people you talk to with connection requests on Linkedin.  

 

Don’ts?

Bury yourself in your phone, spend all of your time with only the people you go with or monopolize the time of just one person.

 

What tips do you have for someone who wants to make genuine, meaningful connections at networking events — not just small talk?

There likely isn’t enough time to make the most of a networking event while also having in-depth conversations. If you connect with someone who you would like to continue a conversation with, ask them if they would be open to scheduling a call or meeting up for coffee. Then follow up!

 

medtouch
Photo via Medtouch

MedTouch People and Culture Coordinator Courtney Utsey recommends alternating between personal and professional questions to build real connections at networking events. 

 

How do you choose which networking events to attend?

Before I choose a networking event to attend, I look into the goal of the event. Some events incorporate fundraising for a cause or group, others are for networking within my industry and others still are for expanding my network within the various affinity groups I find myself in. As a person who is somewhat introverted, I set the goal of attending at least one networking event per month, and diversifying the event type each time.

 

What are your top dos of professional networking?

Smile. Sometimes the venue, crowd or other factors can feel intimidating, so find a way to make yourself comfortable in a space. Meet a networking “buddy” and walk with them around the room to connect with others. It can be as simple as that. Repeat someone’s name aloud so you remember it, and don’t be afraid to ask to connect on LinkedIn as a way to stay connected. If you’re going to an event where you know one or two people, make it a point to connect with at least three to five new people.

 

Don’ts? 

Don’t be fake or too pushy with people. Remember, networking is about connection and it is a conversation. Don’t overload someone with questions — that may seem like you’re trying to finish a mental list of questions rather than actively listening to them.

 

What tips do you have for someone who wants to make genuine, meaningful connections at networking events — not just small talk?

Never assume that you can’t connect with someone who doesn’t look like you — don’t judge a book by its cover. As a minority professional in Boston, I can sometimes feel awkward or have difficulty starting conversations at an event. Refusing to judge people by their appearance has helped tremendously with letting my guard down and opening myself up for genuine connections with others.

I tend to strike up a conversation with questions such as what does someone do for work, and follow it up with questions surrounding where they grew up or where they’re from. Transitioning from work to slightly personal topics has the ability to open a person up and help us identify shared experiences. Then practice active listening: I make it a point to ask follow-up questions to the ones they’ve answered — questions I genuinely want the answer to. My last tip would be to walk into a networking event asking yourself, “How can I help the people I meet?” Shifting your focus to others will establish more meaningful connections and, chances are, you’ll actually gain more in the long run.

 

opsgenie
Photo via opsgenie

OpsGenie Manager of Talent Acquisition and Organizational Development Hannah Hanks said it’s important to “know your story” before going to an event. Be able to explain why you’re networking in 30 seconds or less!

 

What are your top dos of professional networking?

Come with energy: Winning at a networking event is all about working the room. Meet as many people as you can. Learn your story: In 30 seconds or less you should be able to clearly outline why you’re there, what you’re looking for, what interests you and what makes you, you. No matter if you’re currently looking for a new role or just there to meet people, an event is a great chance to get to know new people and form connections.

 

Don’ts?

Don’t oversell: Read the room. Every person may be at the event for a different reason. Flow in and out of conversations as you see fit and get a sense of people. Don’t not talk to people — you’re there for a purpose. Putting yourself out there can be difficult, but you just have to rip the Band-Aid off. It can be awkward for everyone, but all attendees are in the same boat.

 

What tips do you have for someone who wants to make genuine, meaningful connections at networking events — not just small talk?

Get to the “good stuff” quickly. Don’t spend too much time on the small stuff. It wastes time and glazes over the real things that can lead to forming a genuine connection. We’re all people with real personal and professional interests inside and outside of the office. See what things might be shared between you. Events are a great place to meet new people with differing or similar backgrounds as yourself.

 

Jobs from companies in this blog73 open jobs
All Jobs
Finance
Data + Analytics
Design + UX
Dev + Engineer
Operations
Product
Project Mgmt
Sales
Project Mgmt
new
Perficient
Remote
Project Mgmt
new
Perficient
Remote
Product
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Project Mgmt
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Operations
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Boston
Sales
new
Perficient
Boston
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Product
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Boston
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Project Mgmt
new
Perficient
Remote
Finance
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Design + UX
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Product
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Operations
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Project Mgmt
new
Perficient
Boston
Developer
new
Perficient
Somerville
Product
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Sales
new
Atlassian
Boston
Project Mgmt
new
Perficient
Remote
Data + Analytics
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote
Developer
new
Perficient
Remote

Boston startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Boston
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Boston
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Boston Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Women in Boston Tech