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10 Practical Tips for Networking in the Tech Industry

In the interview with YK, he outlined a plan for securing a job in 2024. The plan involves dedicating three months to intensive studying, followed by six months of gaining experience through freelancing or contributing to open source projects. The final three months focus on networking and showcasing your work and skills. YK also suggested combining learning with building an online presence by sharing your progress online. For more details, you can listen to the podcast. In this blog post, we will discuss effective networking strategies to successfully find a job in 2024 and advance your career.


Why is Networking Crucial in Tech?




1. Access to Hidden Job Market

To access hidden job markets, you often need to rely on referrals or internal recommendations for certain tech positions that are not publicly advertised. In YK's case, for example, he was aware of an internship at Microsoft through his involvement in a student club and his connection to a speaker from Microsoft.


Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Toki, the founder of vancouver.dev. During our conversation, I learned about the Google Developer Group (GDG) Burnaby event and expressed my interest in being a speaker there. Unfortunately, the speaker application deadline had passed. However, Toki suggested I directly contact the event organizer. Following this advice, I conveyed my passion and experience, which led to the fortunate chance of being selected as a speaker. This opportunity opened new doors and led to incredible experiences I hadn't previously imagined. Had I not reached out, I would have remained unaware of the event and missed the chance to speak. This experience taught me the value of taking initiative and seizing opportunities.


2. Learning Industry Insights

It helps you stay connected with professionals in the field, as it facilitates easy access to information about industry trends and the tools others are using. By comparing our work with that of our peers, we gain valuable insights into our own growth and development. There is a lot happening in the field of AI, with tools like Chat GPT and other AI-related software. It is important to keep up with new tools, frameworks, and research papers to stay informed about the latest trends and up-to-date information.




3. Mentorship and Support

For example, if you are interested in becoming a UX designer, one cool way is to connect with experienced UX professionals. How do you connect with these people? A good idea is to attend meetups and industry events.


The people you meet at these meetups, especially those with experience or a willingness to help, can act as your role models and mentors. They can provide helpful tips, advice, and encouragement as you navigate your own path. They can share their industry knowledge, tell you about their own experiences, and help you overcome any challenges you may encounter. This can be a solid support system for yourself, helping you grow and thrive as a UX designer if that is your goal.


4. Enhancing Your Professional Reputation

A strong network can enhance your visibility and reputation in the tech community, making you a more attractive candidate to potential employers. For instance, if you consistently attend and engage with industry professionals at tech meetups and conferences, you may be invited to present on a relevant topic, further enhancing your reputation.



 

How to Network Effectively in Tech



1. Attend Industry Events and Meetups



Attending tech conferences and local meetups is a great way to meet industry pros and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. Like we mentioned earlier, these events are super valuable for making connections and expanding your knowledge in the field.


2. Leverage Social Media and Online Platforms

Apart from offline meetups, you can also use social media and online platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even GitHub. These are awesome tools for networking in the tech industry. It can be tough to meet certain folks in person, especially if they're famous or from different countries. But hey, you can always chat and interact with them online. This lets you showcase your work and get noticed. Just remember, networking isn't just about what you can get, but also about making connections and fostering collaboration.


3. Offer Value

It's also important to think about the value you can bring. You have the power to offer your expertise, share resources, or simply provide support as an individual. Our main focus is on value, which is really helpful.


You might doubt whether you have anything valuable to contribute, but that's far from the truth. There's likely something significant you can offer, even if it appears small at first. For example, you can act as a connector by introducing someone to other individuals or resources that could be beneficial to them. Such introductions might lead to mutual support and collaboration, creating a positive impact in ways you might not initially anticipate. Everyone has something unique to contribute, and often, it's the seemingly small gestures that make a significant difference.


4. Follow Up and Stay in Touch



Networking is not only about the number of followers we have, but it is essentially about cultivating meaningful relationships. So, don't forget to follow up and stay in touch. When you remember to follow up, it's a message to express how much you appreciate their time.


5. Build and Maintain a Personal Brand

What is a personal brand? It is how others perceive you when you're not in the room. Developing a personal brand that truly reflects your skills, interests, and professional goals makes it easier for others to understand how you might fit into their network or organization.




 

Dos and Don'ts of Networking


Dos


1. Be Authentic:

When you introduce yourself, just be yourself and let your true personality shine through. Honesty is super important in building trust with your audience. For example, let's say you're super passionate about AR and you're at a networking event where everyone's talking about AI. Instead of pretending to be into AI, it's way better to authentically express your love for AR. That way, you'll attract people who are just as passionate about AR as you are.


Being authentic also means owning up to your mistakes and using them as learning opportunities. For instance, if you share a project that didn't go as planned, don't try to sugarcoat it as a major success. Instead, openly talk about the challenges you faced, the mistakes you made, and the important lessons you learned. This shows that you're open to learning and growing, which can catch the attention of potential collaborators or employers.


When you're honest and true to yourself, people are more likely to trust you. By being your genuine self, you'll attract people who really align with your values, ideas, and personality. This leads to more meaningful and long-lasting relationships. When people know they can count on your honesty and integrity, they're more likely to maintain a strong connection with you over time. Being authentic also helps you attract the right opportunities, like exciting projects, awesome jobs, and fulfilling collaborations that match your interests and bring you joy.




2. Listen Actively

Don't interrupt too soon. Instead, try not to formulate a response immediately. Take the time to really listen to what is being said and try to acknowledge the speaker by summarizing what you've heard. This helps to avoid misunderstandings.


When you hear other people's points, you can practice active listening by asking open-ended questions. For example, if you meet someone at a meetup who mentions their recent project involving AI, instead of just nodding passively, you can engage in active listening by asking questions like, "That sounds fantastic! Could you tell me more about the specific challenges you face in implementing AI in your project?" By asking for more details, you show your interest in their work and encourage them to share their experiences.


One thing I'd like to mention is not to be afraid of silence. Active listening means allowing moments of silence. This gives the speaker time to collect their thoughts and share deep insights. Instead of rushing to fill the silence, embrace it and wait for them to contribute and expand on their points.


3. Follow up

As I mentioned before, it's not just about the number of followers. It's important to follow up with people you meet and actively maintain and cultivate those relationships.


For instance, after attending a meetup, you can send personalized thank-you emails to the people you met, expressing your gratitude for their time and mentioning specific discussions or key takeaways from your conversation. You can say something like, "It was such a pleasure meeting you at the meetup. I really appreciate your insights on AI trends in your presentation, and I look forward to staying connected." Additionally, you can schedule follow-up meetings to continue the discussion.


For example, you can say, "I really enjoyed our discussion about this topic. Would you be open to scheduling a follow-up call next week to explore potential collaboration ideas?" Remember, networking is an ongoing process, so periodically check in with your contacts by sending brief messages or emails. Ask how they're doing, share updates on your projects, or simply wish them well on important milestones like birthdays or work anniversaries. This helps to maintain and nurture your professional relationships over time.




4. Be prepared

Try to prepare a self-introduction that will help others get to know you. It can be a personal story that serves as an icebreaker. For example, you can share a story about overcoming a challenging project or a career transition that significantly impacted your journey. It's also helpful to prepare a list of open-ended questions to initiate and maintain a conversation. For instance, you can ask why someone chose to pursue a career in AI or inquire about the challenges they encountered while working on a particular project.


When preparing, remember to set clear goals. Are you seeking job opportunities, mentorship, or hoping to establish new industry connections? Knowing your goal will help tailor the conversation. For example, if your goal is to find potential collaborators for a startup project, focus on meeting people with related skills or experience in your industry niche.


5. Offer help

Offering help and assistance to others during network interactions is not only a kind behavior, but also a powerful way to build strong and meaningful professional relationships. When you offer to mentor or provide guidance to someone in your network, you are contributing your expertise and experience to help them grow professionally.


For example, let's say you have been in the industry for several years and have gained significant expertise in AI. During a networking event, you meet a recent graduate who is passionate about AI but is just starting their career. You offer to mentor them by sharing resources, recommending courses, and providing career guidance. By sharing your knowledge and insights with others, you demonstrate your willingness to help them succeed.


Networking is not just about professional growth, but also about forming emotional support and connections. Even a small act of kindness during challenging times can make a positive impact on someone's life. So, offering help not only helps you build stronger and more meaningful relationships, but also positions you as a valuable member of a professional community.




Don'ts


1. Don't be too pushy

The job market is highly competitive, and it is common to feel a sense of desperation when searching for a job. To stay updated on the next steps for an interview, it is necessary to check your mailbox regularly.


However, when seeking referrals or assistance from someone, it is important not to be overly aggressive in your approach. It is better to take the time to get to know each other first before asking for help. Respect personal boundaries and be mindful of the other person's comfort level. For example, if you meet someone at a networking event and notice they seem uncomfortable, maintain an appropriate distance and avoid pressuring them with personal questions.


When following up, it is important to be careful not to overwhelm the person. This means being cautious about sending too many messages, emails, or requests. Give them space to respond at their own pace.


2. Don't neglect follow up

As mentioned earlier, try to avoid overwhelming with follow-ups, but also make sure not to forget to follow up. Remember to send a thank you email and maintain a LinkedIn connection. Alternatively, you can schedule a follow-up meeting. Networking is not only about the initial interaction but also about building and nurturing relationships over time. Consistently following up can demonstrate your commitment to fostering this meaningful connection.


3. Don't ignore online presence

Your online presence plays a crucial role in shaping your personal brand, which can really help you when you're looking for job opportunities. LinkedIn is a cool platform for showcasing yourself. Just imagine going to a networking event and swapping contact info with a potential employer. Later, they decide to check you out on LinkedIn. But then they see that your profile doesn't have a picture, detailed info, work history, or any recommendations. That might make them wonder if you're really committed and professional.


Besides having a LinkedIn profile, there are other ways to build and maintain your personal brand, like having a personal website, blog, online portfolio, or even your GitHub page. These can all be super effective!





4. Don’t overlook small talk

Smart talk serves as an icebreaker and helps build connections, leading to more meaningful and productive conversations.


When attending a conference, starting a conversation with a friendly comment about the events, keynote speaker, or agenda can put both you and your conversation partner at ease. This relaxed atmosphere is helpful for continuing with open and engaging discussions. While small talk may not seem very important, it plays a crucial role in networking by helping you establish connections, create a friendly atmosphere, and potentially discover common interests.


5. Don't be inconsistent

For whatever you're doing, consistency is key. While most people know this, it can be very challenging to actually maintain consistency. I want to emphasize that

80% of success is simply showing up.

Now that you know all the points, here's what we recommend you do: show up, attend events, talk to people, and follow up with connections. This is crucial for building your online presence and personal brand. It's important to take action and act on these recommendations because they are key to your success.



Networking is not just about swapping business cards; it's about building real relationships and bringing value to the tech community. If you're looking to level up your networking game and unlock new opportunities for personal and professional growth in the tech industry, take a look at these helpful tips and tricks. They're designed to help you navigate the networking landscape like a pro!

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