The art of networking: Tips for meaningful interactions offline

If you were to ask an IT expert about networking, they might ask what's your IP address? Jokes aside, working in tech often means interacting with people behind a computer screen, which makes in-real-life meetings that much more special. As the WordPress Community Manager at SiteGround, it's my job to attend events around that world and to take some of that online connectivity and apply it to offline community building.

Even though I have a ton of fun, there’s a business side to attending events too. I highly recommend individuals and businesses take the time to attend conferences, meetups, and hackathons so they can meet new people and create opportunities for spontaneous conversation. The web is a powerful tool, but there's nothing like connecting in person, and there are plenty of reasons to make it a priority.

Develop new opportunities through thoughtful networking

Relationship and community building doesn't happen by itself. It takes planning, investment, and you guessed it: networking. Whether you're a blogger, a freelance developer, run an agency, or own your business, there's value in going to events and meeting people in real life. We've seen for ourselves how powerful those human interactions can be, and we’ve started many successful business partnerships this way.

Tip #1: Come prepared

You don't have to be naturally outgoing and charismatic to be great at networking. You can learn and develop these skills! Begin with research to have a good idea of who is attending the event and who you would like to meet. Many conferences will publish a list of attendees or develop an app to make networking easier. You can also use the official hashtag on Twitter to ask people who’s going. Mention you are attending in your Twitter profile to let people know in case they want to connect with you. Then, set up meetings or casually introduce yourself if the opportunity arises. Don't be shy! Chat with the people around you too. You could be sitting beside your next business partner and not even know it.

Networking tip: Start with small talk, listen, and be genuine. Then, use “What do you do for a living” as a natural way to move the topic to business.

Tip #2: Don’t be shy

Small talk is the easiest way to start chatting with someone. You can even strike up a conversation while waiting in the lunch queue. Introduce yourself, ask them their name, and follow up with an icebreaker question. “Is this your first time at this conference?” or “What talks did you attend?” are great ways to keep the conversation going. Listen, react, and be genuine. Then, use “What do you do for a living” as a natural way to move the topic to business. 

Tip #3: Get their contact information 

Never walk away without taking someone's contact information. This could be as simple as getting the person's name in writing so you can add them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. If you can get an email address, that's even better. Be sure to follow up with them shortly after the event so you can keep the conversation going. Whatever you do, don't be overly salesy. Networking shouldn't be approached only as a means to an end. People can see right through it if you merely treat them as potential profit. Being genuine and kind goes a long way. 

Meet the people you interact with already

Hosting can be a confusing concept for people building their first website. They often don't realize there are real humans behind the data centers and servers powering their sites. Similarly, attending events in person allows you to put a face to the technology you use every day and to meet the creators developing the software and solutions you love.

Just like meeting a musician you have on repeat at home, meeting someone who makes a product you use can be great! It’s also an opportunity to discuss feedback you might have to make the product better for everyone. In fact, that's a lot like how the WordPress community works. We get together to discuss improvements, new features, and set new standards, to make WordPress and the web safer, faster, and more powerful.

In June, we attended WordCamp Europe, the biggest WordCamp in the world. Thousands of people attend WordCamp Europe and we love the opportunity to meet them and hear their stories.

At SiteGround, the conversations we have at events like WordCamps, meetups, and more, are an essential part of serving our clients, listening to them, and getting inspired by all the ways they use our tools and services to power their projects.

At the end of the day, being with people is fun! Technology has given us the means to meet people from around the world that we otherwise couldn't and to build communities beyond the restrictions of geography, language, and ability. Meeting in person is a great way to build on that, and we hope to see you at an event soon!
Follow us on Twitter to find out where we'll be next.

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WordPress Community Manager

Francesca is a passionate speaker and you can find her in Italy and around the world talking about WordPress, community, open source, women in tech, small businesses. She is a part of the WordPress community team, organizing meetups and WordCamps in Torino and taking part in many other WordPress events worldwide. She is now also the SiteGround WordPress Community Manager.

4 Comments

  1. Reply August 26, 2019 / 08:09 Jiří KašparSiteGround Team

    Hi, send a greeting from the Czech Republic. Great Goal. Jirka.

    • Reply September 9, 2019 / 09:41 Francesca MaranoSiteGround Team

      Thanks! Greetings from Italy 🙂

  2. Reply August 30, 2019 / 15:52 Roy CohenSiteGround Team

    Francesca, I've worked in sales for 40 years and been a member of a Houston, TX chapter of Business Networking International (BNI) for 8 years.

    A core concept in business networking in person is to be way more interested in the business of the person you are speaking with than your OWN business. The idea is to make all the people in the room YOUR sales force, most of whom won't even be paid anything for recommending you and your services. Their pay comes from YOU recommending THEM to others.

    I once had an American Express merchant services rep visit our chapter. She spent 10 minutes trying to get my business. Bad move. She learned little about MY business. When I began accepting American Express, she did NOT get the business.

    Just some thoughts. . .

  3. Reply September 9, 2019 / 09:42 Francesca MaranoSiteGround Team

    Thanks for your comment!

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