I was not born to talk to people. I was super introverted all the way through college. I was okay with studying then go home and play videogames all day. It didn't take till I went to graduate school that I started to open up more and took to the challenge of wanting to meet other people. So out of self perseverance I did something I was uncomfortable with and that was to talk to people. I was starting a new graduate program and new no one. I attended meetups and started to meet people. Before I knew it I made friends.
That same philosophy I am applying to being a data scientist I know nothing about the field other then what I've been studying but I want to know more about the industry. One way to do that is through networking.
Every person I network with I get new knowledge that may help me reach my goal. They give me tips and even motivation that what I want is within reach I just need to keep fighting for it. Sometimes you need that extra pair of eyes to show you something about yourself you didn't know you had.
To get myself more entrenched in learning about the industry I have been joining meetup groups that are in the lines of what I am interested such as data science, machine learning, python, etc... Meetups are not only a great way to network but they also have lectures and lightning talks helping you gain more knowledge.
Now that I have went over why to network now I will give you some tips on how I do it and how you can apply it when you need to network.
You have to approach networking like you are trying to get a beautiful woman's/man's number. If you can do that. You can network. Now if you can't then here are some tips how I do it and you can do it too.
This is a picture of me in a gorilla costume I ran a 5k in. It was not comfortable and after the race I took off my mask and still looked like a mess. I talked to a female runner after the race still in gorilla gear and got her number. How that happened wasn't because how I looked it was because of confidence. Don't go up to anyone and be timid, be confident. I've tried a bunch different lines before but the best line to use is a simple "Hello".
Learn to talk to people in groups. It will be rare you see someone just standing by themselves and waiting for you to talk to them. The people you will be wanting to talk to will be the same people others want to talk to. Waiting for them to be alone will often not happen, they will always be talking to someone. You have to somehow insert yourself into the conversation. Like when joining different dataframes you need to find that key. I try to over hear what people may be talking about then just start talking about what they are talking about to get in there.
Now that the hard part is over what do you talk about? I always tailor my conversation depending on where I am at if you are networking after a meetup or at a bar you can't approach them the same way. Don't go straight into give me a job. Make it conversational and ease into it.
Questions I sometimes ask:
What are highly sought after skills in your industry?
How do you like your job?
Are you hiring?
Questions I get asked:
Why data science?
Where did you work before?
Do you have a kaggle account?
What are your plans after?
If you think this contact is networkable get their card, linkedin, or even a phone number. Never forget to do this. Always close!
After linkedin connect send a follow up message saying it was nice meeting them and personalize it with something you may have talked about.
Now if you follow all these simple steps and still get a no. Just do it again. Rejection is part of the process. The important part is being able to brush it off and being able to not stop trying.
If you follow these simple things you should be able to network professionally.