There's a joke often told at industry events, usually during the networking hour: How can you tell an extrovert engineer from an introvert engineer? An introverted engineer looks at their shoes when talking to you. An extroverted engineer looks at your shoes when talking to you.
In the many years I've worked with engineers, it's proven true that small talk isn't something they enjoy. Frankly, they have bigger and better things on their minds than chatting up a stranger and networking.
Even still, networking is a necessary evil of building a career. Indeed, Mitch Maiman, president of Intelligent Product Solutions, recently shared 5 Communication Tips for Engineers to Advance Their Career, where he wrote:
There was a time when engineers could work within companies and have minimal (or even bad) communication skills. While it is not necessarily important for engineers to become great public speakers or authors, it is increasingly important for them to possess effective communication skills.
As much as this introverted editor, herself, hates to admit, he's right. And you never know who you could meet -- your next manager, your next employee, your start-up partner, a peer with whom you brainstorm -- so networking is a must, no matter where you are in your career.
Small talk and networking can be made easier, though. I find a crutch helps, something actually in hand to chat about.
With that in mind, we've got a pretty great goodie to help you network at next month's and December's Embedded Systems Conferences (ESC), an event hosted by Design News' parent company, UBM. Namely, the ESC Collectible Edition "Hello There!" e-badges. These electronic badges form a low-power mesh network that lets their owners announce via LEDs their areas of interest, pre-programmed with selections of: Analog, Digital, Hardware, Software, STEM, and IoT. It flashes what you are interested in to help break the ice.
During ESC Minneapolis, Sept. 21, 11 a.m., ESC Engineering Theater session, Introducing the ESC 2016 Hello There! Badge, we'll give 75 of these amazing and hackable badges away to the first 75 people to line up at the theater session. Be there early. We had standing room only at our most recent ESC badge event.
We'll also be holding a similar ESC Engineering Theater session at ESC Silicon Valley, Dec. 7, and a more in-depth tutorial that includes these e-badges, Dec. 6, at the San Jose convention center.
Building out the IoT. Get down and dirty on hack-proofing C/C++, cryptography basics, IoT device creation in 45 mins, taking your IoT design cellular, debugging tips and tricks and more in the Connected Devices and the Internet of Things track at the Embedded Systems Conference, Sept. 21-22, 2016, in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company, UBM.
Even if you don't want to chat, the e-badges let you play rock-paper-scissors with other badge-holders. Oh, and they control robots. Small robots, but still, robots. We will demonstrate that at next month's ESC at the Minneapolis Convention Center, as well.
Hope to see you at these sessions. If you aren't lucky enough to get one of the 75 we're giving away and you happen to see me strolling the convention center halls, say hello. I may have a few extra e-badges to share throughout each ESC. And I promise that if you do break the ice with me, I'll do my very best to look at your shoes when we talk.