How New Grads Should Network in Boston

This is the second post in my series for new college grads and young professionals in Boston. My goal is to help you get started on the career you want in Boston’s innovation economy.

Last Monday I wrote about why doing what you love is a totally practical and essential way to look at your work life.

Today, I’m sharing resources on how to network successfully in Boston.

My view is that if you’re looking for a job and you’re not getting to at least three events every week, then you are not trying hard enough.

Where to Find Valuable Networking Events

Off the top of my head, here are seven resources to find the best events in and around Boston. You should sign up for their newsletters.

Greenhorn Connect

Mass Innovation Nights

Startup Digest Boston

MassChallenge

Meetups near Boston

VentureFizz

BostInno Events List

How to Work a Room

Okay, you’ve found relevant events and you’ve made a plan to go. You know that, as Woody Allen rightly said, 90% of life is showing up, but still you have that fear of looking like a fool. Here are a few pieces of advice that I believe in.

Plan simple answers for the predictable questions

You know you’re going to get asked a few things several times. So plan your answers and practice saying them a few times.

“What do you do?” “What are you you looking for?”

The trick is to keep your answers simple.

I just did _____. I am looking for ______. I love ______.

Example: “I just finished school. I’m looking for a customer-facing opportunity at a startup. I love the creativity of tech companies.”

Always end with the “I love ______” statement.

Why? Because it’s a natural up-note. This does two things. It covers over any nervousness you might have displayed, and it makes it easy for the other person to present another question.

“Oh, have you been around startups before? Did you do an internship or something?”

Now it’s a conversation, and there are no right or wrong answers.

This is where you want to be: in an interaction where your natural enthusiasms come through.

When it’s all facts, the interaction can feel like an interrogation. When you introduce feelings, like love and excitement, you make it into a conversation between two humans. In every interaction, you want to get there.

Tweet about the event ahead of time.

Find out if there’s a hashtag and tweet a couple of times before the event. That way when people are at the event, they will see you in the Twitter stream for that hashtag. You’ll find you meet people at the event who have already checked you out (in a good way, hopefully) online. That’s better than having to introduce yourself cold.

If it’s a speaking program, use the Q&A to your advantage

If there’s a Q&A, try to ask a smart question. When you get called on, stand up and say your name and what you do. Then ask your question. Now everybody in the room knows who you are. You’ve shown that you’re a good listener and that you want to learn more, and you’ve given people the opportunity to approach you. This is the secret of networking — you want to turn the room around. Rather than you working the room, create ways for the room to come to you. And if nobody comes to you, you have a natural opportunity to walk up to the speaker and say thank you for the question. That’ll usually lead to more interaction.

Have the right mindset

Identifying direct leads on currently posted jobs is not the goal of networking events. Your goal should be to meet people who share your values and your interests. The right job opportunities will come from there.

Roles I’m hiring for

I’m the Boston City Lead for WeWork. I’m hiring Associate Community Managers and a Front Desk Associate (not yet posted) right now. If our mission and values speak to you, I encourage you to apply. I’m always looking for passionate, enthusiastic people to join our team! You can follow me on Twitter at @davemacboston.

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