6 Effective Ways to Network With Other IT Professionals
While building a healthy network takes a lot of effort on your part, it’s one of the best things you can do to further your career. In this day and age, it’s not just about what you know—it’s about who you know.
Everyone needs connections to get where they want to be. Even if that means going outside your comfort zone, building relationships with people in various fields and positions expands your business possibilities.
Many make the mistake of trying to seal as many connections as possible when the real value is in creating strong bonds between yourself and others who will enhance your journey. It isn’t just about meeting people; networking is about exchanging information and building long-term relationships.
Of course, networking takes diligent preparation. And before you throw out the “I don’t have time” or “I wouldn’t know where to begin” excuses, we’ve researched and outlined key ways you can prepare yourself to effectively network with other professionals in your field.
1. Identify Your Goals
Before the networking process takes place, it’s important to define your professional goals. What are you looking to achieve by making these connections? Do you have career goals that you’d like to further? Once you’ve defined the objectives, you can find a way to merge your career aspirations and your networking goals.
The clearer your goals, the more likely you will be able to achieve them. Whether you’re aiming for a technical or business role in the tech industry, networking can give a great boost to your career development. Concentrate on what you have to offer and how you can communicate that to your fellow IT professionals.
2. Make the Best Impression
As the saying goes, “First impressions are everything.”
When attending an event or meeting where you plan to exchange ideas and gain access to new opportunities, make sure you’re presentable. Introduce yourself, shake hands, make eye contact, and smile. Your potential connections will notice that you’ve shown yourself friendly and open to further conversation.
In networking situations, people seek out positive individuals, so it’s important to present yourself as such. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean being disingenuous. If you’re an already extroverted and positive personality, people will naturally be drawn to you. But if you consider yourself an introvert, you might want to prepare an icebreaker.
Begin with a few casual talking points. You don’t need to explain complex issues, but offer a few conversational opportunities for the other person to introduce themselves. Then, be an active listener. Don’t just listen to respond; listen to understand.
Be present in the conversation and think about your response. By doing so, your conversation partner will become more engaged, and the rest of the conversation will come naturally.
3. Be Ready to Give Your Pitch
The key to presenting your pitch is to not be salesperson-esque. Think of it more as telling a story. When other individuals ask what you do, don’t make it sound too scripted. Be natural in your explanation, and don’t be afraid to show them your genuine passion for the profession.
Business cards can be helpful but start with something a little less formal. Your opening statement should be brief, and it should be a memorable, straightforward statement about who are and what you do. All the little details, like your title or specifics about your position, can wait till later.
Since the IT industry attracts some of the most competitive and highest-paid experts in the market, it’s crucial to be memorable and direct with your pitch. If your pitch lands well, the conversation will continue, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to offer more information about yourself.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Chances
Every networking event has the potential for valuable connections. However, you can’t expect to find any if you decline every invitation or so no to every opportunity. It’s okay to put yourself out there—even if you’re not 100% convinced.
If you attend an event and nothing particularly stands out as a potential career move for you, the least you can say is you’ve attended, gained experience, and expanded your horizons.
It’s all about becoming more visible and open to connections. With every invitation acceptance, you’re increasing your chances of adding to your network. You can’t expect to grow in your field without meeting new people and striking up conversations.
5. Take Advantage of Your Social Stance
Especially within the IT industry, technological networking is an extremely efficient strategy. LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms offer great ways to keep in touch and learn more about your connection, and how your career path might merge with theirs.
Staying active on these social media sites is a virtual way of showing yourself open and ready to conversations concerning your industry.
Even if you saw someone at an event but didn’t get the chance to introduce yourself, shooting them a DM is another way you can get in touch and set up a discussion.
From new events to informative content, to job openings, using your online stance offers various opportunities to maintain existing connections and add more to your profile.
6. Follow Up
Meeting an individual once doesn’t establish an official connection. It’s necessary to reach out to them afterward and follow up. This gesture shows that you’re serious about building a strong and lasting relationship with them. By going beyond the surface-level conversation topics, they’ll recognize that you’re genuinely invested in the connection.
Don’t be afraid to be the first one to reach out; oftentimes, individuals make a great connection at an event, but then the relationship turns into a waiting game, with each person patiently anticipating the other to make the first move.
Instead, be prompt and send a quick text, DM, or email. It doesn’t have to be an essay or a message, but you can include a few small details from your conversation that you look forward to speaking more about in the future.
Networking is a two-way street. Among many IT professionals, building a solid network isn’t a choice; it must be made to be a priority to succeed in the industry. An IT expert might have a shiny degree from a prestigious university, but developing your career in the tech industry is about having the skills, experience, and ability to connect with others.
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