A Singapore Python leader's secret to successful networking
By Kylee McIntyre24-Oct-2017Views 3294

Python

Miraculously, your schedule has cleared up. You're actually out of the office at 6pm and can finally make it to that meetup event that you've wanted to make for the past couple of months. You hustle through evening rush hour, successfully track down the location, walk in, and grab your pizza just in time to quell the growling to your stomach. You don't know too many people, so you end up standing in a corner snacking. After the first slice, though, it's go time. Now you have to be social and, well, network.

How do you do that, exactly?

Let's say you're naturally people-oriented and have no qualms about speaking to strangers. How do you know you're speaking to the right person? How do you make an impression? And - because meetups often have pauses in the middle for presentations and panels - how do you make the most of your time? What's the right way to bow out of a conversation to go start another?

Martin Brochhaus serves as The Artling's CTO in addition to running his own company Bitlab Studio. He's a current organizer of the Singapore Python User Group (or PUGSG meetups), a meetup for Python developers. 100offer caught up with Martin to ask him about leveraging meetups for the best networking and talent options. We also got to hear a little about the Python community in Singapore.

Reaping the benefits

If you're looking to break into the Python community in Singapore, have no fear; it's not like breaking into Hollywood's elite. In fact, Martin's used to seeing different crowds every month at the PUGSG meetups for plenty of reasons. The event atmosphere is an open one, and developers often can't show up to the same event every month. They're simply stuck at work.

Don't worry - it's a lot easier to break into the Python community than it was to sit at the popular kids' table in high school. via GIPHY

“I believe [going to meetups] helps a lot," says Martin, adding that the most important parts of the event are the networking sessions that bookend the gathering, as well as the open call or open mic that takes place at the end.

Python

A little initiative and strategy can go a long way to making a networking event worthwhile for you, says Martin.

The trick is to treat the event like a marathon - find interesting people during the first stint of networking and keep those people in mind to tap again after the presentations are over. “The best part of the meetup is actually after the talks," he reveals. Even if the presentations are making you wish you'd gone home after work, stick those out. You'll be able to meet up with those interesting people once more at the end for more conversation. That conversation can lead to several great connections for you. You could meet a new friend, or that person could end up being the cofounder to push your startup business idea to the next level.

That person could also be the next connection you tap for your next job - or perhaps the connection to your next job itself.

That's not to say that you can't gain inspiration from the talks themselves. Martin details a talk given at PyCon by a developer who had used open data sources to figure out housing prices around Singapore relative to SMRT - public transportation - stops.

That person could also be the next connection you tap for your next job - or perhaps the connection to your next job itself.

“She used the open map of Singapore and plotted the MRT lines on top of that map and also took publically available government data from HDB [housing development board]," he tells 100offer. As expected, the data showed that, the closer one got to the city center, the more expensive the housing prices tended to be. “But you could also see that you only needed to go three stops away from the center and then, all the way to the end of the island, the next 10 stops have the same price," Martin says. So, while it did benefit people to find housing outside of the city center, they didn't need to go nearly as far as they thought.

The developer ended up using the data to buy herself a house.

Opportunity abounds

While it seems like the opposite thing you'd want to do if you were looking to stay away from the limelight, Martin suggests that organizing meetups themselves can make things a little easier for you.

When Martin first came to Singapore, he attended a Python IT conference and loved the way things felt. However, the event was yearly, and he was wondering if there was a group that met on a monthly basis. “There seemed to be but they didn't meet very often," he explains. “I just thought hey, why don't I put in some time and effort and try to keep this going more regularly?"

The time and effort put into the organization of an event pales in comparison to the benefits reaped. “I'm also a freelancer, so I need a good network, and when you organize these things, people automatically look up to you and think that somehow you are some kind of expert or something," he laughs. Martin, who describes himself as “quite shy," likes that people are more likely to come up and talk to him once they know that he's the organizer.

Someone with the right skills, a small portfolio of successful projects to show and a good work ethic can find jobs with ease here.

He also finds that meetups fill a hole that online job applications don't. For example, he'd been looking to hire a female developer - while he didn't get any responses to the posting he'd put online, he was able to fill the position by finding people at meetups.

The events are also a great way to find side projects or freelance gigs. “Being a freelancer in Singapore - it's great," says Martin. As long as you have the skills - and some luck - there's plenty of work out there, particularly from companies who have been burned by bad developers before and are more willing to pay for good work the second time around. "Someone with the right skills, a small portfolio of successful projects to show and a good work ethic can find jobs with ease here."

Game plan

Not all of us have it in us to plan our own meetups - maybe we have other obligations or side projects, and showing up to a monthly event is enough of a challenge. These can still be very productive experiences for you, and Martin shares his own game plan to making meetups awesome.

Often, he begins, you walk into the room and find people already sitting in groups. “You assume they are friends," he says. “They're not. They're strangers. They're all just there for the pizza." So grabbing a slice of food and going to sit down at a table with people at it already primes you for conversation. So, if you happen to be better at talking to machines than people, no problems. Networking events with other developers will have a way of easing you into conversation.

You assume they are friends. They're not. They're strangers. They're all just there for the pizza.

If you're feeling especially bold, you can walk up to someone and just ask what they do. It may seem too simple to work, but at the end of the day, you're just in a room full of people that you probably don't know, and everyone - more or less - is looking to do the same thing as you. “I don't know why it feels weird for me to [start a conversation] but it always works," says Martin. “Once you've gotten over that hurdle, that conversation starts going."

Likewise, to move on from a conversation, especially once you've exchanged business cards, you don't need any special bells and whistles. “You can always say, 'I need to get some water,' or 'Oh, I want to get more pizza' or something like that," says Martin. You can move on to get your next snack, and when you come back - or sometimes, even on the way to the food - you'll get roped into a conversation with someone else who interests you.

Networking is a great way to get a foot in the door in Singapore's tech community. We're another. Sign up for 100offer now to access jobs from dozens of tech companies in Singapore, Australia, the US, and China for free. You'll get insight on the tech jobs industry through our online community of software developers and gain connections without having to leave your computer screen (we know you have to work late sometimes). You'll also get to speak to a real human about the opportunities that are best for you.

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Kylee McIntyre
American tech, science, health, and environmental writer. Lover of scifi, fantasy, travel, and coffee. Find her on Twitter @ejkyleem.
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