In a previous post we talked how to begin building a network. Here we’ll discuss the types of people you want to meet.
Who Should I Be Meeting?
Talk to people who do what you do
When I was near the end of my first consulting gig, I began asking other consultants for leads for more work. One colleague was kind enough to send an email blast to his top recruiter contacts. In most cases, an email blast isn’t a good way to make connections (no one wants to feel like a number). But, when the recipients are recruiters it’s ok. Their job exists to find work for people like us. They’re happy to meet people like you.
The feast or famine cycle works in your favor here. Consultants often get leads when they’re fully booked and are happy to pass them on to you.
This also worked for me later when I switched platforms from .NET to iOS. When I was getting started as an iOS developer I had lunch, coffee or beers with every local independent iOS developer I could find. Intros from these contacts led to my earliest mobile gigs.
Talk to people who do complementary things
The most immediate benefit will come from people who do the same thing as you. But that’s a small pool of people. So you want to meet people who do complementary things. The types of people you’d work with on a project with. Backend, front end, designers, QA. They often are working on a project that needs help in an area they don’t specialize in. They’re happy to bring in extra help to the project they’re working on.
An additional benefit to meeting other people is that you get to learn more about their side of the industry. This helps you in a number of ways, but more about that down the road.
Talk to people who hire people like you
Engineering Managers, CTOs, VP of Engineering, Business Owners. These are harder to meet in person. Most aren’t out at Meetups. And once you’re in leadership inside a company, many people keep their head down and keep focused on their employer’s problems. This isn’t unexpected. Everyone knows that building a network can help your career. But freelancers and consultants get the most immediate benefit. Consequently, they’ll be the easiest people to connect with.
Is this all the people I should be meeting?
No. If you’re doing it right, you’re going to be talking to many types of people. Including many people that won’t help your career one bit. This is a good thing. Your goal is to Create Connections with other humans. Remember that sleazy insurance salesman that shoved his card in your hand and ran off? Don’t be the tech version.
Give the boot camp grad struggling to find their first job the same respect as the startup CTO. Ask about what they’re doing and share knowledge if you can.
Don’t think of the people you meet as prospective clients. This is basic human decency but also works in your favor. If all you care about is what people can do for you, they’ll smell it.
So now I know who I should be talking to? Where can I meet these people?
We’ll talk about that next time. Stay tuned. If you want to know when more articles are published you can sign up on my mailing list or follow me on twitter.