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12 Networking Tips for Shy and Anti-Social IT Pros

Rich Hein | Feb. 20, 2013
Being an introvert isn't the end of the world or your career. However, to be successful in the IT field today, you've got to overcome shyness and learn that it's OK to ask for (and offer) help.

How many lost opportunities are due to poor follow-up? A lot.

Not doing this can not only prevent you from networking well, it can also kill your career. If you promised something to someone, a link to an article, help with their site or whatever the case may be, get it done expediently.

8. Attend Actual Groups and Join Communities

Join a local development group or related organization, even if you just show up and listen. "I would not consider myself shy at all and even I cringe sometimes at the prospect of a room full of people I don't know," says Tracy Cashman, partner and general manager of the IT group at staffing firm Winter Wyman. The major benefit of going to local meet-ups to network is that talking about something you are already knowledgeable and passionate about makes starting conversations that much easier.

This is where you're sure to find people who are interested in the same things you are, not to mention you can add another bullet point on your resume. "Joining and participating in relevant technical societies and organizations can contribute to your bona fides," says Mickey Mantle, coauthor of the book, "Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams. It's a great way to grow professionally and network at the same time.

There is a good chance there are developer meet-ups, programming workshops, bootcamps, courses and seminars in your area. Cashman's advice: "Try not to think of it as working the room--just make it your goal to have two or three good conversations, not necessarily to talk to everyone there. The way to open up a conversation, you ask? It's not rocket science: "Hi. How are you? My name is _____."

9. Start a Blog

"With a blog you can demonstrate your areas of expertise, gain credibility in your field, and draw interest from potential employers," says Sampson. There are a multitude of choices including Blogger, WordPress, Flavors.me, About.me among others. An active blog provides great exposure and serves as an additional method for individuals to develop a deeper understanding of what you can offer.

10. Create and Refine Your Elevator Speech

Prepare a 15-30 second sales pitch that describes who you are, what you do, and how potential contacts or employers can benefit from a relationship with you, Sampson says. Having something prepared to say can make breaking the ice so much easier. That said, you don't want it to sound rehearsed.

Keep it simple and bounce it off someone you trust to help you refine and clarify your message.

11. Keep Your Business Cards With You

The opportunity to build your network can occur anytime and anywhere, this is why it is important to carry business cards. Items that you want to include here are simple: your name, title, contact information and areas of expertise. "Also, it is essential to ensure that your resume is current. You never know when the perfect opportunity is going to present itself," says Sampson.

 

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