Our chief goal with networking events and conferences is simple: begin to build relationships with influencers at our dream companies. Who are influencers? Senior engineers Developer evangelists/community relations Recruiters Hiring managers We want to meet these people in a way that is authentic and natural, and then follow up with themreview

When you go to an event or a meetup, do you find yourself awkwardly standing around, compulsively looking at your phone? Do you feel alone or uncomfortable? The truth is, nearly everyone else is feeling the same way. When it comes down to it, people want to feel welcomed and acceptedreview

Back when I was new to financial sales, I had a very simple strategy for feeling less awkward. I’d scan the room to find someone who looked alone and uncomfortable (like me), and smile and introduce myself. Then I’d start asking them questions about their businessreview

Tactic 1: Smile and Say Hi Yes, it’s really that easy. This has been my go-to opener for years with people. I walk up to someone, give them a warm smile, offer my hand out, and just say, “Hi, I’m Sam! What’s your name?” If they’ve got a name tag, I’ll ask something innocuous like, “What brings you here?” Like I said above, people love to feel welcomed and

Take, for example, a “tech famous” core team contributor of your favorite framework. That person gets bombarded daily with mostly criticism and sometimes abject flattery. Any time I meet someone whose software I use or whose book I loved, I simply smile, shake their hand, and say: “Hi, I’m Sam. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you in person for the work you’re doing. It really makes my life easier every day.”review

Once you’ve expressed genuine appreciation, you need to master the art of finding common ground. Your best go-tos are always: Hobbies (think board games or knitting) Location (from the same small town in Ohio?) School (same high school, same college, rival college) Entertainment (here’s your chance to talk about Harry Potter, or sports, or TV shows)review

Never spend more than a few minutes in these interactionsreview

Take a few minutes to get to know the person, and then say something like this: “Hey, it was really great talking to you for a minute. I’ve got a few other people I want to be sure to catch before I take off. I’d love to keep in touch, though - do you have a card?” I know, I know, we’re in tech and people don’t often carry cards. That’s okay. The point is not the medium itself, the point is that I asked them for a means of following up. Do not just hand them a card or tell them your Twitter handle. They will never follow up with youreview

Tactic 6: Follow Up (No one does this!) Following up is the single most important tactic here, but it requires the most skill. You have to learn how to follow up without being creepy or too persistent. Luckily, this is pretty straightforward. After a few days, but no more than a week, contact them in their preferred medium. It’s this easy: Subject: Great meeting you! [keep it simple] Hi Susan, Just wanted to send you a quick note to say that it was great meeting you at the Famous Tech Conference last week. I bet that Michigan weather is a tough adjustment after all that sunshine. [something personal about them] Take care, [courteous without being creepy] Sam Julien P.S. My friends are still trying to convince me to play Scythe, but I hear it’s even more complicated than Netrunner. I’m doomed. [callback to whatever common connection you made] Notice I’m still not asking for a job or anything. I’m still building the relationship. If they don’t respond, that’s fine. Not everyone has time to respond to every single email. Hopefully, they’ll respond in a friendly tone with similar banter. If not, don’t sweat