Networking Tips for Web Developers
March 14 2016, 11:47 am
by Wes Sovis
A stereotype exists that perpetuates the idea that web developers are introverted individuals who prefer working in a dark corner, rather than working in teams. In this stereotype, developers lack social skills, are loathe to make eye contact with others, and their basic hygiene leaves something to be desired. In response to this persistent stereotype, we protest the generalizations that follow around respectable developers around the world.
As a rule, web developers have spectacular hygiene habits. The rest, well, is somewhat accurate.
In order to help our developer friends get out of their shells, we put together some tips for web developers to utilize in networking environments.
The Importance of Networking
We live in a world and industry where everyone seems to have a myriad of certifications, years of experience, and a LinkedIn profile that makes them look like the next Steve Jobs. When your CV is at the bottom of a stack of applications, more often than not, it's not what you know, but who you know that can help you get a job or contract. While this may seem self-serving, it's just the way the business world works. Business is about relationships, so if you don't have any relationships, you'll be hard pressed to have any business.
Besides, by knowing more people, you're making yourself more helpful for your other relationships. Think about it this way - Swell doesn't do graphic design. But if someone at a networking event asked about graphic designer, I know several very talented graphic artists who I could put this person in touch with. Isn't it nice to play professional matchmaker?
Networking Like a Pro
If you're at a networking event alone as a web developer, you're likely to be relatively terrified. My advice? There's always someone else at an event that is alone and equally terrified. These folks are usually standing alone in a corner, looking at their own shoes, and thinking of an excuse to leave early. Find that person and introduce yourself. You probably just made their week, and a new best friend. You now have a wingman/woman to get through the evening with, or a potential new customer. Win-win, right?
Don't Take It Personal
Sometimes, you'll meet someone at an event, and the conversation will end abruptly. I remember, very distinctly, attending an event for my previous company. I introduced myself to a prospective customer at a dinner event, and the guy was immediately rude. It may have been because I was 30 years younger than anyone else in the room, or that I wasn't a C-level executive, but he made it clear with his body language and responses that I wasn't who he wanted to be talking to. Take the hint. Excuse yourself and move on. You have no idea why some people act the way they do, and you shouldn't assume the worst when they react negatively to you. He was probably having a rough time at home, behind on work, or not feeling well.
Treat Everyone the Same
Do you know who usually has the CEO's ear, more than any other person in a company? The CEO's assistant/secretary. Just because someone doesn't have a "C" at the beginning of their title, it doesn't mean they don't deserve your time, attention, and respect. Nothing is more unprofessional than being rude to someone at an event because they're "not who you're there to meet."
The Purpose of Business Cards
Business cards are great. If you have a meaningful conversation with someone, and they ask for your information to get in touch later, hand out your business card and be sure to get theirs. However, don't walk up to a table of people and throw around your business card to everyone. Simply put, it's a waste of paper. The purpose of networking to make personal, meaningful connections with fellow professionals, not to promote deforestation by handing out your business card unnecessarily. Few things are more obnoxious than the card-thrower at an event. Don't be that guy or gal.