Networking has become a valuable tool when it comes to job search. It’s all about who you know and who knows you. Studies have shown that almost 80 percent jobs are never advertised. They are filled by word of mouth. The IT job market is no different. Most IT professionals find jobs through the people they know. Gives them business insights, insider information on job openings, news on company trends and allows them to make strong connections within the industry. Having a solid network becomes especially important for job hunting during economic downturn when employers are flooded with resumes and scores of techies are queueing up for jobs. Here are some tips to build and maintain a professional network in order to make you stand out from the pack.
Sign up for networking events and meet-ups
Networking is a great opportunity for you to meet people from your industry. When you build a network you make new connections who in turn can provide access to a broad range of unadvertised job opportunities and leads. Wondering how to get started? Professional associations, trade magazines and online research will give you a good sense of events, workshops and meetups happening near you. Additionally, you can attend educational events and explore alumni groups to strengthen your technical knowledge and stay on top of trends.
Build your personal/ professional brand
Regular networking will give you visibility and make you a familiar face at events. Meeting your contacts every now and then leads to exchange of information and challenges on a regular basis. The more you connect, the more opportunities you will have for sharing new ideas and even extending help to your contacts. This way you can gain people’s trust and build your reputation as a helpful, reliable and knowledgeable person among your contacts.
Network with the right people
Being in the right place is important in order to achieve your professional goals. Do your research and look for specific events and opportunities where you are more likely to meet people who can provide job leads and other relevant information. It could be through industry events, meetups, LinkedIn groups or conferences. If you network enough at such places, the odds of meeting the right people automatically goes up.
Connect through social media
For a long time, IT professionals have been networking on social media to communicate with each other. Since techies spend a large amount of time in front of a computer, it is natural for them to connect on online forums, communities, newsgroups and discussion boards. For example, if you answer questions on technical boards, it will show your knowledge as well as willingness to contribute value to the community. Moreover, you can create your own website. Or else, write a blog or tweet technical ideas. Make sure to follow other professionals and re-tweet their tweets. This will add to your reputation as a thought leader. Ultimately, this will let you develop a network of like-minded people, which could open new doors to opportunities for both personal growth and career advancement.
Follow up with your contacts
So you have met a bunch of people of interest at a networking event. Now comes the most crucial part- staying in touch with your contacts. Follow up quickly with an email or LinkedIn request to show that you genuinely value meeting them and want to stay connected. Drop a message sharing a link to an interesting or relevant article. Or find a topic of common interest and suggest the idea of catching up over coffee to discuss. A quick follow up ensures that you are separated from those who don’t maintain contact and allows people to remember meeting you. It’s also extremely beneficial to stay in touch with ex-colleagues when looking for job opportunities. They can even be your references. What’s more, if you regularly follow up with them they can introduce you to other people at their new workplace, keep you informed about the latest job openings and provide company news as well.
So go ahead, make the first move, start building your network and carve out a strong career path for yourself.