I recently attended my first tech meetup in Raleigh, N.C. I wasn’t there to recruit people, and I’m very happy in my current position at Atomic Object so I also wasn’t looking for a job either. Yet, I still had a great time and gained a lot from it.
Why go to a meetup?
I think many developers view these networking events as a place to go with a specific goal in mind. Maybe you’re looking for a new job or looking to hire someone for your dev team. These goals are great and perfectly fine reasons to attend a tech meetup. But, what if you’re like me and neither of these apply? I would argue that this is actually the best time to go to meetups.
When you go to a meetup with neither of these goals in mind, you can interact with people much more organically. In my case, I just moved to a new city and just wanted a chance to get out and meet other people like myself. This meant that when I was talking to people at the meetup, I could enjoy my conversations and form more authentic connections rather than coming off as trying to make a sale or desperate for a new gig. Again, going to a tech meetup with these goals in mind is fine, too, but you run the risk of turning people off of you if you’re not careful and seem disingenuous.
What will you gain?
Here are a few things developers can gain from tech meetups even if they aren’t interested in hiring or finding a new job:
- New technologies. Hearing what tools developers are using at different companies is a great way to stay up to date with new technologies that you might want to use on your project or just keep in mind for future/personal projects.
- Opinions about your practices and tools. Developers are opinionated people and will probably have no problem telling you what they think about the technologies you’re currently using. Hearing the pros and cons about your current tech stack from an outside source is a really good way to get a fresh perspective on the tech you use.
- Better solutions to problems you’re facing. A tech meetup can also be a great place to run a solution you have in mind past other experienced developers. Try not to get too specific and down in the weeds though. Keeping things a little on the generic side will help to keep more people involved with the conversation.
- Learning about bad practices. I’ve found that many developers like to complain about the tech on their projects and certain practices in place at their companies. This is a great place to hear these horror stories and learn from other’s mistakes rather than from first-hand experience.
- New friends. This is also just a great place to meet cool people and feel more in tune with the area you live in!
I encourage you to attend a meetup for yourself and see if you experience any of these benefits. Who knows, maybe the time will come when you are looking to hire someone or change roles, and you’ll have made some good, real connections naturally along the way!