If you were at a workshop or convention, wouldn't it be great to meet up with some of your contacts? Of course there's an app for that. The iPhone app Sonar, which can tell which of your Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook friends are in the room, is expanding to include your LinkedIn contacts as well, Mashable reports. And it allows you to tweet directly to that person through the app.
As a person who finds professional mingling right up there with root canals, this app sounded fabulous to me. After attending a conference this summer, my colleague Ann All wrote about people's tendency to be fiddling with their phones rather than attempting real-life conversations. Yet you never know who you might meet at one of these things.
I've written before that the most common way to find a job is through networking and that face-to-face networking works best. One HR specialist told me that to find a new job, you need to speak face to face with 150 people. (I have no idea how she came up with that number, but suffice it to say that it takes work. You need to be building a network, though, long before you're looking for a new job.)
For people who are not social butterflies, Steve Herzberg of corporate training firm NRG Solutions in a BNET interview advises that you make a plan and start with people you know. But you also need to branch out and - gasp! - strike up conversation with strangers.
Monica Guzman at Seattle's GeekWire writes of the value of attending tech meetups, tweetups and the like:
We'd rather hang out with people we know. Sometimes we need extra motivation to break out of our regular circles. Food works. And the bar. But we have to pour ourselves the courage cocktail that blends a serendipitous mood with the confidence that yes, we can carry on a conversation with a stranger.
She also says:
Communities are strongest when a steady stream of genuine passions circulate within them. The polished accounts of tech misadventures in blogs and on Twitter are great, but they're not always as true, as useful, or as moving as the ideas people will share in person, or even the raw, uninterpreted truths we keep locked in our own minds.
Trust takes time to build online, but in a loud room, an introduction, a knowing smile and the right course in conversation can be all it takes to shake loose a few great ideas, build a few promising relationships and strengthen the Seattle tech community, so it can strengthen all of us.