Networking is an important part of career growth, but it is difficult for an introvert. From stepping through the door, to engaging people in conversation, and talking about yourself with people you don’t know, the entire event can be a struggle. But it doesn’t need to be this painful.
IT professionals have a distinct advantage over other introverts in that they share an interest in technology and geeky jokes. This is a natural connection that can spur discussions and build connections in a fairly painless way. Using a t-shirt to tell a joke, make thought provoking comments, or show interest in a geeky hobby is a great fit for networking with other technical folks.
Here are examples that I’ve found at conferences and user group meetings. I don’t think that the wearer’s primary intent was to engage others in conversations, but it happened nevertheless. Use the t-shirt to make the introduction
Tell a joke:
Department of Redundancy Department
Come to the nerd side. We have Pi.
I have the best stupid user story!
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
If at first you don’t succeed, call it v1
Show interest in a geeky hobby by wearing t-shirts from:
Comic book conventions
Science fiction conventions
Role playing conventions
Make thought provoking comments:
Complexity is the enemy of Reliability
First Corollary: Simplicity is harder than complexity
Second Corollary: Complex solutions are usually the first ones invented
Third Corollary: Where a simple solution and a complex one are both possible, the complex one results from an inability to grasp the whole problem at once
Created by Bob Salnick, Senior Systems Engineer, University of Washington.
This t-shirt completely describes Bob – who he is, how he thinks, and how he works. This started simply as a printed statement hanging on Bob’s office wall. Custom t-shirts were made for the entire team in which Bob worked when his manager recognized it as a powerful philosophy for building reliable software systems.
No matter how introverted you may be, you have ideas in which you truly believe. If you’re like many introverts you also have a clever sense for subtle humor. Let those qualities demonstrate your uniqueness through t-shirt networking. It can be as easy as visiting a custom t-shirt web site and then showing up at events where networking opportunities exist.