How to Network Like a Boss

I had the very good fortune of being able to attend Google I/O 2015 this year. I went last year as well, but this time around I set a goal for myself – to meet a lot of people by doing more networking. I didn’t try to qualify it by setting a number. I just wanted to put myself out there and come home with a handful of business cards.

I’m happy to say that I achieved that goal. I attended a Women Techmakers dinner where I met some interesting and talented people (and ate some amazing food). I met Paul Irish from the Google Chrome team. I met Mat McNulty and Rob Dodson from the Polymer team. And while I didn’t come home with a handful of business cards (mostly because I don’t know how many constitutes a “handful”), I did come home with a decent number.

Women Techmakers Dinner
Women Techmakers Dinner

Tips for Networking Like a Boss

Since I’m not outgoing by nature, I gave some thought to the types of things I tend to do when I’m networking, and thought I’d share them so that introverts and ambiverts everywhere might benefit. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Strategic positioning. Make a conscious decision to position yourself beside someone who seems amenable to engaging in conversation. This includes when standing in line or when sitting in a conference room waiting for a talk to begin. Look for people who are not immersed on their phones and are not already engaged in conversation.
  2. Be approachable. Speaking of phones, put them away! Being fully absorbed by your phone makes it appear as though you are not receptive to talking with others. This can be tough to do in practice because nobody, myself included, wants to stand around by themselves looking like a “loser”. At the same time though, it’s much more likely that someone will start a conversation with you when they don’t feel as though they will be interrupting you.
  3. Plan what to say in order to break the ice. This is actually fairly easy. You already have something in common by virtue of the fact that you are at the same conference, talk, or what have you. Ask them what they do or where they’re from and before long the conversation will begin to flow naturally.
  4. Bring business cards. If you’re serious about networking, it’s smart to have your own business cards. At busy conferences, you can potentially meet a large number of people, and it’s difficult to remember everybody’s name. You can help others to remember yours by giving them your card. (Shameless plug – my husband specializes in physical branding and creates all of my logos and business cards, including the logo you see on this site.)
  5. Connect online. After the conference has ended, be sure to connect online with everyone you are interested in keeping in touch with. This should be easy if you also asked for other people’s business cards when handing out yours.

What are some of your handy-dandy networking tips? Share them in the comments below.