Building a Strong Network-Part of a Career Development Strategy
Networking is underrated. People often get stuck in their comfort zones without the courage to go out and change perspective.
The IT industry is dynamic and the employee turnover rate of companies is very high. You’re almost always sure that there is another company that can offer you more than what you get now.
Not being aware of the power of networking can cost you many valuable opportunities.
Lou Adler conducted a research in order to find out where do people get their jobs. The respondents were divided into four groups — unemployed/active searchers, employed/active, employed/tiptoer, employer/passive.
Surprisingly, (or, not so much), in each of these groups, networking was the №1 reason they got a job. Moreover, the research says that 85% of people got a job through some kind of networking. Adler calls it “using the backdoor” to find a job.
Before they announce an open position, professionals look for internal candidates or referrals. When no one is found this way, a job ad is the next step. So, if you know these people, and they know how different you are, you have a chance of being offered the job. That’s why it’s important to meet people.
However, meeting just any people won’t help you a lot. Networking is not about meeting as many people as possible, it’s about meeting the right people. You already know many people and you have your own network.
But, how many of them are decision-makers? Team leaders, recruiters, senior managers, etc., are the people you want to meet. Let’s be real, they are BUSY people. They don’t want to waste their time meeting just about everyone. You need to bring something on the table. Ask them what their goals are. How can you help them? When you have something to offer, they actually become interested.
Don’t get me wrong. Don’t meet people just because you want something from them. Be a giver. This means you should help other people without wanting something in return. You don’t want it now. But, in the future, who knows?
The most important thing is NOT to come unprepared. And, I’m not talking about knowing who’s going to be there and their backgrounds. (I hope you already know this is a MUST). I’m talking about education. You need to educate yourself every day in order to have subjects to talk about. You need to know what’s going on in the industry. You must show your knowledge is up-to-date. And, most importantly, you need to have an attitude. That’s how you will leave a good impression and be remembered.
Another thing your interlocutor will recognize is honesty. That’s why you should go to events that you are really interested in and talk to people you really want to meet. Talking on subjects that appeal to you will highlight your passion and desire to know more, which is what people you talk to will appreciate.
Nicolas Cole recommends making friends, not contacts. Talking to someone on a regular basis, finding interests you both share, helping them when needed, is much more valuable than sharing business cards. Moreover, he states that the best networking hack is LISTENING. Because almost no one does it.
People have issues with networking because they think they need to go to every single event, be as extroverted as possible, meet and exchange contact with every person there, go home, and wait for some awesome offer to fall from the sky. Well, sorry to disappoint you. That’s not what networking is about.
Going to events is not the only way you can build a network. Being present on social media, following pages and groups from your field, commenting, and asking questions, are great ways to get noticed.
By joining Tech conversations on Twitter, commenting and discussing products on Product Hunt, answering questions on Quora or Reddit, you can both give to the community and start building a network for yourself.
One useful way of networking is blogging. Sharing opinions on important topics in your industry can make you stand out from the crowd. Although you might not be getting too many visitors, you might attract attention and people might start sharing opinions with you. One thing you will accomplish for sure is that people who find you see that you are really into what you’re doing and get to know your way of thinking.
So, networking is not overrated. What is more, people underestimate its power. Especially in Tech, where most professionals are introverts and enjoy their comfort zones behind their computers.
However, networking is now much more than just going to events, meeting random people, and waiting for things to come fall from the sky. Networking is about building a relationship and nurturing it. It’s better to have five good and deep connections than fifty superficial ones.
Rand Fishkin put it pretty simple:
Networking sometimes means having to break through into some social circles and making people trust you, especially if you’re a beginner and know no one.
Networking is about giving, giving, giving, and not asking for anything in return. If you’ve given enough, you’ll get plenty without asking.