I listened to a recent episode of .NET Rocks with Jeremy Clark about developer socialization. It was all about how developers interact with each other – or more interestingly – don’t interact. There was one particular anecdote about lunch at a development conference where there was a single person sitting alone at half the tables in the room; that was quite eye opening for me.
There was a particular tip to start a conversation with other developers that is so simple, yet would be clearly effective. “What are you working on?” It is a simple modification to the standard networking question “so what do you do,” that sidesteps the fact that you are at a gathering of developers and know everyone is a developer already. It’s also nice since it lets them pick a work thing or a personal project, whatever they feel like talking about. I know that I am going to use it at the next developer gathering I attend.
I also appreciated the insight that developers love to talk shop, but don’t like starting conversation with strangers. It resonated well with me as I don’t like to start conversations, but love to talk shop. It seems like you just need one or two people to get some conversations going and let other people gravitate towards them to get your gathering going.