T-Shirt Networking

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:

Gaming conventions

Comic book conventions

Science fiction conventions

Role playing conventions


Make thought provoking comments:

Salnick’s Law

 Job Networking IT Technical


 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.

Closing Thoughts

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.