How do you network at conferences?

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How do you socialize/network at conferences? Are there many people in the community that you know, and meet up with during conferences? Do you just join random conversations? What can/do conferences do to help this often introverted community make new connections?

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I struggle with this, I could easily go a whole conference without talking to anyone if I didn't work on it.

I find lunch time at conferences to be the easiest way to get to chat naturally with folks. I've met people in those contexts that I've gotten to know and sort of become "conference buddies" with.

Taking part in any kind of structured conference activities like closed tutorials, etc. can also help. It's a space where you might get to know the folks sitting around you and the instructor.


Tangential DEV stuff:

I've found wearing my DEV hat to be a big plus here, which is frankly kind of cool. I've definitely met a lot of folks lately who say "Oh, you're on DEV". And then they realize I'm Ben from DEV and that's kind of fun too. 😄

Since DEV is founded by introverts, I would like us to help foster more explicit meetups in these environments to help folks make friends in an explicitly welcoming fashion. We have some ideas in the works here.

 

I consider the "hallway track" to be one of the most important parts of a conference. Being a rather shy person myself, I know that it can be a struggle to start a conversation. But I experienced that most people in such a context are very approachable. I can only encourage you to take heart and initiate conversations, you'll find lots of topics of mutually shared interest pretty fast, after all, why else would you be on the same conference?

 

I like the unconference sessions at conferences. I find it easier to talk to others when we have a common topic to discuss. And once we break the ice, I find it easy to carry on the conversation one-on-one. Another of my fav tricks is to volunteer. Easy to strike up conversations if you are the host! (Well, kinda)

 

When we arrange Meetups here in San Francisco we have to set aside lots of time for mingling, just as we can't make the lecture(s) too long. People don't want to sit in a classroom and listen to people drone on for an hour, regardless of how good a speaker it is. Sure, there are always exceptions, but you seldom go wrong with mingle-time.

And Meetups are starting to replace conferences. Some of the most successive Meetups have thousands of members and are run as startups.

It used to be that you exchanged business cards, those days are long gone, today you exchange LinkedIn ID's.

So what do people mingle about? Job openings, contacts, what technologies the various companies are using.

Another example of the importance of mingling is Hackathons, where you can develop cutting-edge skills, meet companies with cool APIs, other hackers, and maybe get hired.

We live in an exciting, intensely social world, especially for developers.

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