How likely are you to drive to a foreign location, full of strangers, and start a conversation with a dozen or more of the strangers? It is an odd set of circumstances, but this is what we put ourselves through at networking events. Networking events can be stressful for introverted and extroverted alike. There are some ways you can prepare ahead of the event to have a more successful networking function.
Be sure to see the list below of networking events related to communication and technical writing.
Know your event
“Thorough preparation makes its own luck.” Joe Poyer
When reviewing a networking event to attend, be sure the subject aligns with your work and career goals. Are you interested in technology, teaching, programming, plumbing, camping? If the event is focused on the same thing, it may be a match for you. Once you have decided on an event, the other things to be familiar with are directions to the location, event and parking fees, and length of the event.
Set a goal for the event
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” Earl Nightingale
Identify one or a few goals that you want to accomplish at the event. Perhaps there is one new person you would love to meet and establish a connection with. Maybe this could be someone you already know and want to strengthen your relationship with. A simple goal by be to collect a set number of business cards or to make a specific number of connections. Set the goal and stay focused on the goal. It is very important to remember when meeting new people, this is your only chance for the ‘first impression’.
Do not be timid
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” Theodore Roosevelt
It can be difficult to start a conversation with a stranger. At a networking event you are all in the same boat. It is awkward for everyone. Start with the basics, say hello, introduce yourself, and as a basic question. For example, ‘How long have you been a part of this organization?’. The type of question could vary by the type of event. This author attended a networking function that was by invitation only and was set up by one person. Everyone at the event knew the organizer. The question that was asked the most was, ‘How do you know the organizer? Be sure to ask questions that will help you make a connection, after all that is what you are here for. Small talk is an art and will take time to master.
Here is a list of a few Pittsburgh based conferences and meetups on communicating and technical writing:
Association of Teachers of Technical Writing – Accountability in Technical Communication, Pittsburgh, PA March 12-13, 2019
Grants Professionals of Western PA – Grant Writers, Next Meetup – Wednesday November 28, 2018
Pittsburgh Business Times – Holds multiple meetings per month with networking opportunities.
Pittsburgh Technology Council – Holds multiple meetings per month with networking opportunities.
Shadyside Young Professionals, Next Meetup – Monday November 12, 2018
Shut Up & Write! Pittsburgh, PA, Next Meetup – Friday November 9, 2018
Tech Happy Hour – Pittsburgh, Nets Meetup – Wednesday December 5, 2018, Mario’s East Side Saloon, Walnut Street
If would like to suggest another networking event, add it to the comments.