It’s not surprising that at an event like RailsConf, people will engage in some professional networking. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean talking shop, and with four days of conference, some of us might need a break. After the second day of RailsConf, I was intent on avoiding shop talk as much as possible—at least while I was at the after parties.
In fact, I set the (unrealistic) goal of avoiding tech talk altogether. Of course, I failed—I was at RailsConf after all, and many, if not most, of the people there were excited about something related to their work. But there were many people with whom I didn’t share any particular business-related enthusiasm. The conscious decision to focus my discussion outside of work made it easier for me to have conversations with these people.
It’s natural to want to have some common ground, some common experience, when interacting with others. Having something in common makes it easy to relate; when you’re speaking, you have some confidence the other person cares, and when you’re listening, it’s easier to follow. But when meeting new people, it’s not clear that you have any interests in common (technical, or otherwise).
Why I Didn’t Want to Talk About Rails Development
At RailsConf, it was likely I would have some common experience with Rails with any of the other guests. But, if you’re like me, you get tired of answering questions like “What version of Rails do you guys use?” Starting a conversation about work when you’re in town for a conference also sets a precedent for the rest of the conversation. To me, it indicates professional motives (to some extent, anyway), and therefore sets up some pressure: I would be interacting with another person as a professional. Not that I have any doubts about myself as a professional, but I wasn’t interested in this sort of pressure at an after party. Read the rest of this entry »