As tech evolves, the abundance of jobs as well as the possibilities at a tech career are very abundant. Recently passing my halfway mark in Flatiron's software engineering immersive, I began to look into the future and what it holds. I started doing research, started following people on LinkedIn, started to watch videos to help get a head start for what awaits in the future. Having read many articles and watching many videos, it seemed that the word "networking" is always present. At first, I kind of ignored this word and was focused on the interviewing side of things. Looking at data structures and trying to practice algorithms. But the more I saw the word "networking" the more I wanted to envelop some knowledge into why it is so important to network.
As someone who is very interested in starting to network, I created this small informative guide that will not only benefit me, but can also help others trying to achieve the same result of creating a successful network.
Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
One of the most important steps in networking is getting out of your comfort zone. I, like many people, have some fear in going out and meeting new people. It is hard to get out of a regular routine, and take time out of the day to go meet someone who you don't know. Many people have very busy schedules, they go to school/work, come home to do more school/work. To find time to attend a meet-up or a social gathering is tough, but it is vital in building a professional network.
As someone who has not even started the job search, I can already feel how powerful a great network can be. Having the ability to utilize your network to help secure a job can be very rewarding.
Creating A Professional Network
Networking is not about going out and just talking to people. To build a proper network, you need to build friendships. Trust needs to develop between you and your network. Many people have their own style of building relationships. Some people like to join a group of people, others prefer a one-on-one style of approaching people. Find your ideal way to approach people. A great way to network is to go to events. Find out when an engineer from a company will be speaking. If you go to an event that you are interested in, chances are that someone there will have the same interests as you. There are many events on social media platforms such as "Meetup" or "Eventbrite" that could be very useful when it comes to finding networking opportunities. Another useful platform is LinkedIn. I recently found myself following people who provide great amounts of useful information about job seeking tactics, and networking tactics. Seeing as how important networking is, doing a lot of research can make a big difference in how you build that network.
Once you have found yourself in the presence of a person/group of people, build your relationship! Start making friends. Another very important aspect is to ask questions. How did those people get the job? What can I do to fit in? In a recent study from 2016, shows that 85% of jobs are filled via networking. That is an astonishing number. It shows that networking should be the go-to method for job-seeking candidates.
Although networking is something used across many different professions, it is especially vital for software engineers. There are many applicants to every job, and the interviewing process can also be very difficult. The benefit to having a great network is that if none of your contacts have job leads, they may know someone that has a lead on a job. Networking can be seen as a tree with many branches. The branches being your many different connections through the people in your network. Another reason as to why it is important to become friends with your network rather than using them just to find work, is that they can help you. If your connections have job experience, they can show you how to prepare for an interview, they can help guide you on what to do to get that job, they can review your work and help make your code look more presentable.
Doing all this research has helped me solidify my approach towards networking. If you can create a proper network, build lasting friendships, and get your name out there in the field... You will find yourself at a good starting point to get your foot into the software engineering world.