Networking may seem like a daunting experience but it can also play an invaluable role in your personal and professional growth. It builds your personal brand, creates lasting connections and greatly improves your social skills. Aside from that, better technology, higher numbers of startups and increased government investment mean it's never been easier to build a network of like-minded professionals in the tech sector. Or more important.
There are a plethora of options when it comes to getting your networking profile up, from attending workshops and conferences, to joining online industry groups on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Here are just some of the ways networking can advance your career in tech.
Diversity or lack thereof, is a topic that's long since dominated conversation in the tech industry. There has been much demand for the sector to champion more women and minorities and as a result there are a number of industry events aimed specifically at supporting these communities.
Attending such events allows you to meet new people you may not have much contact with on your day-to-day. Broadening your social circles results in a more varied perspective and more developed viewpoints. This leads to increased understanding of different opinions and better capacity to empathise. Both of which are extremely attractive traits in a potential employee.
Builds your confidence
Though intimidating at first, immersing yourself in the tech community through events and roundtables really improves your confidence. Being asked for and offering your opinion boosts your self esteem as you feel like a valued member of the discussion. You become more accustomed to introducing yourself to others, speaking in front of strangers and promoting yourself and your work. Giving and receiving feedback from your peers in this environment also builds resilience which is essential for career development.
One of the biggest advantages of networking is that it brings about peer to peer learning. Technology is evolving at such a rapid rate it's so beneficial to have a network of people that you can seek advice from or share ideas with. You get to learn about new ways of working, industry developments and may even get to take part in interesting projects. There are a lot of online resources such as GitHub where developers of all levels come together and work on open source projects which sharpens your skills and gives you access to a large community of tech professionals.
Furthermore, if you have designs on starting your own business one day, networking is a great way to meet people who may be able to help you. Whether it's a potential investor, partner, employee or even customer, don't underestimate the value of these meetups. To get the most of the experience take notes of who you've met and follow up online post event.
There's a perception that developers and engineers work in isolation and therefore don't need to be great communicators. This is simply not the case. The most desirable technical candidates will understand the value of being able to discuss their work with both technical and non technical people. Networking is the perfect opportunity to get more succinct and polished when talking about yourself and your work. Even more importantly it teaches you how to listen actively, something hiring managers consistently look for in a candidate. Active listening skills are vital for effective collaboration and for employees interested in moving into a managerial role.