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Ask HN: How can I get better at networking as an introvert technical founder?
15 points by scientits 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
Any tip would be greatly appreciated.

My favourite networking hack sounds insane, but it works. When you're at an event, approach groups of two people. Whenever you see two people talking, there is a very good probability that at least one wants an excuse to end the conversation.

Ha! That is a great idea. I’m going to try it.

Throw yourself in the deep end of the pool. As a technical co-founder, I had to attend an industry conference and man a booth. All fear evaporated by the end of it. You'll find that people are often looking to talk about their issues and their lives. Even better, most people will be sympathetic to your dilemma and will appreciate that you aren't coming at them from the slimy sales perspective. At least, that was my experience over the course of several days of the conference.

Learn by doing. Just like dating, it’ll be awkward at first, but you’ll get better.

I built a low effort tool to help HNers network with each other, it’s a good way to start practicing: https://findkismet.com

Stop asking questions. Make statements instead.

Not "Do you like Node.js?"

But "I like how Node.js has evolved in the last 3 years. I don't care much for React though. I'd rather take on more Functional Programming gigs."

Questions, even the best open ended ones may put the answerer on the spot. Better to model your expected response by answering the question first yourself.

I hear what you’re saying. However my experience (and suggestion) is the opposite. If one has trouble making small talk and networking a good trick is to get other people talking about themselves, their projects, their work. The best way to do that is to ask them questions. People in general like to talk about themselves.

I am not disagreeing with you. You are still asking questions here but initially putting out more into the interaction to try to tip it to an actual conversation. Let me give an example. Sometimes you have to jumpstart a conversation like you have to prime the pump.

Person 1: "What did you think of the talk?"

Person 2: "It was ok." (Kind of a knee-jerk almost blow off response)

Person 1: "The talk was better than the morning keynote. I liked how she talked about how the technical debt at her company was so large they had to declare Chapter 11 Technical bankruptcy. I worked at a place that had a similar situation. I felt chills." (pause)

Person 1: "I didn't get why she could not get approval for.."

Got it! Thanks for clarifying.

You're welcome. Eventually, it gets to the point where the other person feels the need to fill the pause. And then you have a conversation. The pause, though, can seem to be interminably long even if it is just like 5 seconds.

If you don't pause, you won't give them an entry into the conversation. Some people won't interject or interrupt.

How to Win Friends & Influence People is a good book with practical advice. The title is a bit cheesy but a well-written book nevertheless.

Start with events that are not business related but about something fun. You'll feel less pressure and get used to meeting strangers. Language learning events are great. I'm a foreigner in the country I live so I go to events where people want to practise my native language. That's perfect because I'm the expert :-)

Check out this episode from the Kevin Rose's podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-kevin-rose-show/id10...

I've been in your shoes (still am). I've found it to be much easier to start with people that are similar in personality and interests. With people similar to yourself, you'd have more topics to talk about and eventually you can expand into people with different personalities and interests.

Be genuinely interested in what people have to say and listen intently most of the conversation.

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