If you are a non-techie person who has just decided to invest time in building their own product, ‘Start networking’ is something you’ll hear a lot. But where do you start and how should you build relationships? Well, we have good news for you: the tech industry is a welcoming place and with the right mix of online presence and human touch, you’ll fit right in.
It’s sometimes daunting to move towards a completely new industry in order to make your idea come to life. While you’re probably thrumming with potential and excitement, there are also new concepts and new technologies you are learning about everyday. You’re set on a steep learning curve and the truth of the matter is you can’t hide away while you’re learning – you need to get out there and meet with people and gain even more insights and experiences. Well-meaning acquaintances will call this networking and say it’s useful for you.
The thing about networking is that everyone knows it’s something you should do, but few take the time to tell you how to get started. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who just take to new activities like fish to water; maybe you’re on the shy side and the idea of getting out there takes up a lot of effort. Either way, we’ve put together for you a list of suggestions that will help you get started.
Getting yourself out there
The best place where you can get the what’s what on tech events is Meetup and Eventbrite. And figuring out how it works is pretty straightforward: look up the website or the mobile app, create your account, look for events based on your interests and attend whatever catches your eye. We recommend checking out events held by local tech hubs, coworking spaces, app agencies and everything in between.
Start with small meetups
If you’re still not comfortable with the tech jargon and what specific expressions or processes actually mean, start with smaller meetups. With a small group, you’ll have more time to ask questions and chat one-on-one to get specific feedback and insights. You’ll notice that by the end of the meetup, it will become easier to swap contacts and follow up with a thank-you message. Moreso, it’s more likely that you’ll be more memorable in a smaller group, so you can feel more comfortable with shooting a message afterwards that basically comes down to:
I really enjoyed talking to you about <whatever it was you talked about> at <the event where you met>. How would you like grabbing a coffee next week and continuing our conversation? I find I still have questions I’d like to ask you.
Looking forward to see you.”
At the end of the day, people like helping other people, and they’ll be straightforward with you if their availability comes in short supply. We encourage you to take every new meeting as an opportunity to learn something new. And if you find something that piques your curiosity, pursue it further, until you feel satisfied with what you’ve learnt about the topic.
Go big and attend a conference
We encourage you to attend larger events for two reasons:
- While you might have to pay for the entrance ticket, you’ll get a wider range or topics, speakers and participants.
- It’s a good reminder that the tech industry is large and booming: do a little research on all the speakers, but also on the partners and sponsors that are mentioned in the promotional materials.
Our challenge for you is to go to one of these on your own, especially if you’re somebody who tends to stick to their group. Get out of your comfort zone and chat with the people sitting next to you. Ask for feedback about the event, and then ask about their work. Most of the people coming to these sorts of events look forward to the opportunity to talk about themselves. And they’ll do you the courtesy of returning the favour, because reciprocity is something that runs deep within human nature.
Get yourself online
Meetups, seminars, workshops, conferences are all good, but they don’t happen all the time. So where are you most likely to find tech people, seasoned entrepreneurs and aspiring product owners flocking together? The world wide internet, of course. Specifically, the parts of it that include communities.
Look up Facebook groups
Curating your Facebook newsfeed, either by joining tech themed groups or following entrepreneurship pages, is a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in the industry. Hop into conversations, ask for help and watch the news and resource trends unfold in front of your eyes. Start by looking into local, active groups, but don’t be afraid to widen your search to international groups. You’d be surprised what’s out there.
Check out open Slack communities
As many techies and aspiring entrepreneurs are also early adopters, it’s no surprise that once Slack became relevant, it also became the home for open communities ranging from topics like design to product management. You get the advantage of getting more and more niched in topics of conversation, depending where you start. But if we’ve noticed one group of people enjoying Slack at its full potential, it’s the wide mix of user experience designers and product owners. We recommend you get started with UX Collective’s list of recommended communities.
When looking for development advice, go to the main clubhouse
With the right mix of history and community management, Stack Overflow has become one of the top communities where developers share and learn from each other. That’s why the main community is a blast to read through to understand development challenges. If you’re looking for conversations that are a little less technical, check out all the different communities that have been created on the Stack Exchange platform.
There’s a big, big world out there
When you move towards the tech industry, looking to make a difference or to bring enjoyment to the world, it can be both an exhilarating experience as well as an intimidating one. Have confidence that your idea has value and the experiences and insights you bring to the table are just as valuable as any tech person’s ideas. You might even be nicely surprised and discover that coming from another industry might just give you an extra edge.
At the end of the day, whether you’re talking to tech insiders or developers or seasoned entrepreneurs, you’ll soon discover that you all have the common baseline of being passionate about what you’re doing. Allow that passion to guide your interactions and new relationships and you’ll find yourself familiar and comfortable at entrepreneurship and tech meetups. And who knows? You might just join us for a Hyper meetup as well and have a blast at the event. We’re already looking forward to meeting with you.