Don’t Stress Over Networking — Read These Tips for Developers
Does reading the word “networking” sends chills up your spine? There might not be a specific phobia named after this fear, but you’re definitely not alone.
If you’re a developer looking for a job, networking events can help — but only if you set aside your anxiety. We compiled some insider tips from Hack Reactor Career Coaches Lena Johnson and Ben Greene on how leveraging networking events can help further your career.
How do you find networking events?
Thanks to the power of, you know, the internet, there are so many ways you can stumble across the right networking event.
Join a Slack channel like #devchat.
Check out some Github online forums. You’ll likely discover networking events near you — or even some webinars.
By the way, immersing yourself in the online developer community won’t just help you find networking events. You’ll also build relationships, expand your own network, and develop valuable skills like autonomy and proactivity.
How should you prepare for a networking event?
Here’s the short version: Prepare as though you’re going to an interview.
Okay, okay. Does the word “interview” stress you out even more than “networking”? Let’s break it down.
- Be prepared to sell yourself and your work — but don’t talk about yourself the whole time! Be genuinely interested in who you’re talking to by actively listening and asking questions.
- Show off your skills. Don’t just tell someone you’re a problem-solver. Make it clear in other ways. Try asking someone about how they use a particular technology to surmount an issue and then exchange ideas.
- Do research on the companies and the individuals attending. Ask targeted questions like: “I noticed your company primarily works with this industry. Can you tell me more about that?” This goes a long way for showing off your enthusiasm.
- Speak the lingo. If you’re new to networking events, listen in to how people are talking about themselves and their work. Incorporate that into your own habits.
The biggest takeaway here is that you should never go into a networking event with the sole intention of getting a job or gaining a referral.
It’s about cultivating a community. You’ll get the most out of each experience when you bring your curiosity, passion, and authentic self to every interaction.
What are the best questions to ask?
Networking events are all about building relationships. You’re meeting someone for the very first time, so act like it! Ask questions like:
- What’s your background?
- Why do you enjoy working for your current company?
- What kinds of projects are you working on right now?
After you’ve gotten to know each other, let your engineer mindset take over. If you’re a software developer, you’re a naturally inquisitive problem-solver. Ask about technical challenges and let this guide your conversation.
Whether you’re looking for your very first job or you’re in the midst of a career change, it’s easy to feel like you’re a beginner.
Even if you have a lot to learn, speak like you’re on equal footing. Acting like you’re chatting with a colleague or a friend will help alleviate stress and improve the quality of the interaction.
For how tips on how to follow up after a networking event and some opinions on whether business cards are still relevant, read our original post here.
PS: Networking events are a small part of networking
While attending networking events can be valuable in your job search, they are by no means the only thing you should do.
Think about how you can cultivate your own network and develop connections in creative ways. Your friends, relatives, past coworkers, college acquaintances, and coding bootcamp peers can all be a part of your network.
Start by having conversations with people you’re close to about your goals. Your best friend might not be a developer — but she might have a coworker who used to work at your dream company that she can introduce you to. These small things are how you can grow your network every day.
In addition to your personal relationships, think about ways to leverage the alumni networks that are available to you. For example, Hack Reactor has an internal alumni network (with over 3,000 bootcamp grads!) that helps students in their career search.
Broaden your idea of networking. Once you realize that you’re expanding your connections all the time, you won’t get so overwhelmed by the idea of “networking.” And you might even enjoy it.
A big thanks to Lena Johnson and Ben Greene for sharing their expertise!
Originally published at www.hackreactor.com.