Whether it’s virtual or in-person, networking remains a critical component in not only landing your first job, but also for nearly every job after that. Like anything else, networking is a skill that can be learned and perfected over time; in career growth opportunities alone, few skills can serve you more effectively the long term. Here are a few tips on how to level up your networking abilities, as adapted from the new Ultimate Guide to a Successful Technology Career.
Get involved online
This goes for everyone, but especially those seeking their first job: build a presence in the areas you’re most interested in (through the lens of your target jobs). Polish your online profiles, and interact with online groups and subreddits devoted to your interests. Blogging and posting on social media about technologies that interest you will help pull in like-minded folks while also raising your visibility. Hackathons are likewise a good place to create tight bonds with other technologists.
Even in doubt, reach out
It can be intimidating to reach out and request to connect with experienced technologists and leaders in the organizations and industries you’re most interested in. Do. It. Anyway. Many of these experts are only too happy to help, as they had the same leg up on their way to their current roles. Explain that you’re just starting out and could use some information. Never follow up an introduction with a request for a job; the goal here is simply to learn as much as possible. Worst case, you get rejected or don’t hear back – the risk is worth the reward.
Connect with recruiters
Recruiters can be invaluable in your job search, as they can give you solid insights into the state of the industry and which companies are hiring. Show your interest and aptitude to learn, and chances are good that the recruiter will keep you in mind for future opportunities. Again, many recruiters will tell you to connect with them, even if you don’t know them directly; don’t let fear of being a nuisance stop you from reaching out.
Lean into remote networking
You might be concerned that the rise of remote and hybrid work will have a negative impact on networking; after all, how can you meet people when they’re working from home? Fortunately, the past year has seen a notable rise in “remote networking.” Utilize your social networks for what they were initially created for, as they all have strong networking features. Join groups that align with your interests (such as a particular programming language or technology discipline) and contribute to the discussion. Follow hashtags and terms on LinkedIn, and comment on and share posts with your ideas and opinions highlighted. Find interesting people who could serve as mentors and ask them questions about their own career progression.
Once you land that first job, work on solidifying connections with your new colleagues and their networks. Your teammates can serve as excellent resources for everything from continuing education opportunities to new contacts. Although you might not have the same deep bench of company contacts as a long-term employee, creating strong bonds with even a few employees can pay off.