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Networking Tips: Land a Job in the Tech Industry

Networking is important, and much has changed

There was a time not long ago when networking for job leads meant something quite different than what it means today.

For over a year, pandemic-related restrictions on face-to-face contact—whether for meetings, conferences, or just grabbing a conversation over coffee—have put limits on the personal side of networking for many.

Yet, networking remains one of the most powerful means to a great job, in tech or elsewhere.

A 2019 study by Jobvite reported that networking among friends revealed opportunities for 50% of respondents. 37% reported learning about jobs from professional contacts. Clearly, networking is a significant strategy for success in finding a new position.

Covid-19 restrictions, still in place in many communities, do not mean the end of networking for tech jobs. It’s just different.

It’s time to adapt to new realities and to consider all the options, so that your job search is the success you want it to be.

We’re going to explore and reveal some fundamentals of networking. We’ll also describe options to help you compensate for limited physical contact. For as long as restrictions are in place, and perhaps beyond that, a stronger emphasis on digital communications will be essential.

Some principles remain the same

Some aspects of networking for tech job seekers are constant and important to recognize.

For example:

The importance of relationships

It’s important to establish sincere bonds with other people, whether or not the relationships relate to landing a new job. In fact, it is often better to build relationships first, without regard to the career benefit.

With rare exception, learning about opportunities should be a natural outcome of relationships between professional contacts, not a purpose.

It’s important that trust, fellowship, and value are provided in both directions, in any relationship. In other words, get to know people, form bonds with them, converse and learn from them, without regard to what you will “get out of it” for your career.

Any guidance that leads towards an interesting job for you will then be a natural outcome, not something you are perceived as digging for. It’s as true for online as it is for in-person contacts.

Presenting yourself well in every interaction

Whether in past years or at present, networking is a stream of potential opportunity where no interaction is unimportant. Consider your thinking, attitudes, and your behavior as significant components of your personal “brand”.

Professional networking may not reveal your “full self,” as you move between your personal and work-related life. But your contacts will evaluate everything they know about you when deciding if a job opportunity is something that might suit you. That can affect whether you ever hear about it!

So bring your sincerity, reasonable nature, and professionalism to every relationship as you build and extend your network.

Understanding and communicating what you’re after

As much as it was in the “good old days” of attending lots of seminars, user groups, conferences, and other industry events, using online resources such as social media for business networking requires choices and decisions.

After all, your goal isn’t to network with just anyone. Ideally, it is to build a network of people who are likely to know about tech job openings in your field of interest.

Even if you haven’t yet landed your first position in your specialty, be clear about the role you would like to attain. If it’s web development, UX, or cyber security, as examples, target and make relevant contacts. The social platforms have lots of groups and pages that focus on one area or another. Prioritize and focus on those that align to your strongest career interests and qualifications, just as you might have for an array of live event options.

Recommendations for Success Online

Without as many relevant live events to choose from, networking has largely moved to the online spaces. Your best approach will tap into a variety of these with clear purpose and intention.

Once the rare exception, working remotely has become the norm. Nearly three quarters of workers in tech roles are doing that, and have been since 2020. According to PwC, a large percentage of employees see that continuing even after pandemic restrictions are lifted. That is a major shift in how and where work gets done.

Why is the shift to remote work important to recognize? Because the solitary nature of remote work has accelerated the move to digital communications in every form. And that extends to networking as well.

So, how is the newer tech job seeker to adapt?

Make the most of social media

Social media is by definition designed and used for online connections and networking. As we’d guess you may already know, it is the principle way people now connect, even before Covid limited physical interaction.

Thinking specifically about networking and learning about job opportunities through connections, it has become more useful and important than ever. The CareerBuilder page on Facebook, for example, has nearly 400,000 followers! And there are many more specialized ones, like this one focusing on web development.

Explore social media not just for the job sites themselves, but for the people who follow and engage with them. That is a rich source of contacts relevant to your tech job search, and a great way to make new connections and to grow your own network.

Try these ideas for social media networking:

Linkedin: Probably the best-known of the career-oriented social platforms, Linkedin is a must for anyone interested in building a network. Set up a brief, descriptive, and engaging profile. Use the Headline area wisely. That is, don’t make it a job title or something like “Student.” Choose a few words about yourself to let connections know your skills and interests. Browse the Groups—they are closely aligned to specific interests—and join some that relate best to your tech job aspirations. Once you’re a member of a group, engage with others. It’s a great way to get good advice and to discover new opportunities.

Facebook: Mentioned earlier, Facebook is a great source for building your network and accelerating your search for the right tech position. It can be a lot more to you than photo sharing with Grandma or scrolling cute puppies. Join Pages and Groups that fit your interests, for starters. Equally important, engage with others and make personal connections. That’s the most powerful element of networking and will deliver the best results. And try to make sure it’s not a one-way relationship when you do. Provide your own thoughts and advice in comments and posts, just as you would in a face-to-face relationship. Networks are connected people; the technology is just a platform!

Twitter: It can be a little hard to build a significant following of your own on Twitter, and it will take time and effort. But building your own following is not the most useful or important aspect to it. In terms of networking for the right tech job, Twitter gives you the opportunity to follow and engage with key people doing the hiring in the industries you most want to break into. Do that thoughtfully and sincerely as opportunities arise among the accounts you follow. It is often surprising how effective a simple DM outreach can be on this huge platform. Take advantage of it!

Clearly, this is just a small sample of the social media potential for networking with an eye towards furthering your career. But the same capabilities and principles described here apply generally as well. Regardless of your own platform preferences, join groups and engage with people with whom you share common interests and experiences.

In addition to social media channels, be sure to investigate and participate in virtual events as well. Some are hosted on company or association websites, some on YouTube, and others on social media. Others may use online meeting platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Do your research to locate these events in your desired field, and be prepared to join in. And as in our advice for social media connections, be sure to engage in these events to whatever extent possible. That includes during the event, and afterward. Most have chat functions that will allow you to connect with other attendees. That’s a great way to make lasting relationships, to grow your own network, and to land the tech job you want most.

No one knows when or even if the world of work will return to the level of personal contact we once took for granted. But the need to connect and network with others is as important—perhaps even more—than ever.

Given the power of networking to drive your job search, be sure to use every option available to make it happen for yourself.

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This post was written by contributor Marc Tramonte.

Marc Tramonte Marc Tramonte Contributing Author