Your net worth depends on your network and as we slowly get back to in-person conferences, I present my take on alternative networking tools. Like all facets of life, you need the right tools to do the work. Weirdly, however, is the fact that unconventional tools sometimes have a better effect than the designed tool for that specific task, think silly putty and crazy glue. We can copy this same analogy to the field of software engineering as who you know and who knows you are the avenue to your current or next job. So below are some unconventional tools that I have used to help to build my network over the last 2+ years of my professional career.
Meetup shirts, conference shirts of old, shirts for boot camps or the “treasured” hoodie etc… it depends on where you are and when it is, but these apparels act as good conversation starters. People are way more likely to talk to each other when they have things in common. Developer themed T-shirts have a way of either reminiscing over an event together or opening a discussion on a specific topic. So my advice is to get into conversation and make a connection. It may surprise one where this connection may lead, whether you can facilitate them or they can facilitate you.
Giving your time freely has untold benefits that can never be underestimated, as it reveals who you are on a fundamental level. It shows that you can commit to stuff, start and finish a task, also communicate with other people. Volunteering also opens a lot of doors to other events, whether it be conferences, workshops or other recommended meetups that may align with your interests or career, such as an opportunity as a first-time speaker. Another point is that as a volunteer, you get to meet the presenters at conferences/meetups and learn a lot from them during and after their presentations. You get to go to learning sessions and get lots of free swag (Tool #1 : Dev Branded Gear ). Pl Finally, volunteering can help grow your soft skills and may lead to your leadership skills being developed or grown. The take away is that the cultivation of the relationship are important.
“Who you are now can not take you to where you are going”, this quote has stuck with me for the last 3 years. Flashback to 2019, I was working as a computer repair technician and realized that how I was not taking enough time to build my skills as a developer. That was fixed by getting up earlier and studying for 3 - 4 hours each day for 3 months while actively engaging in a variety of virtual and physical communities. This would eventually lead me to get into boot camp and land my first position about 6 months later. Doing your part and asking for opportunities is one of your primary responsibility employing active engagement in the community. This can take the form of being a resource for a specific need, referring someone or just paying someone a compliment or just dropping by to say hi. In my case, it has led me to meet some cool people in tech and do some interesting things. So go to these events with your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles ready as these relationships are created in person and maintained mostly online.
Your job as a developer is to create and contribute, thus networking is a natural part of this skill set. Another thing to remember, the aim is to use these tools to spark conversation, which can be converted to connections. These connections created effectively, become two-way streets of information that should enhance your effectiveness as a developer to your community, your current company and yourself. This article came from an ideation session with @gantlaborde and me while talking in a @virtualcoffee session. I would appreciate any feedback or tips. Find me “@nerajno” if you would like to chat, my DMs are open.