In my last blog posting, I began looking at some tips for networking in your career field, but mainly from a what-not-to-do angle. Here are more tips in this discussion, from a how-to angle. As some have said, it is not always about what you know, but who you know. As unfair as that might seem, it is often a truth that is practiced. So, when you are seeking a position in the tech career field, it is always good to spend time networking with others in your field, to have connections and relationships with them that could lead to inside opportunities in the future. If you already have a solid resume', the difference between you and the multitude of others among the stack of applicants, could come down to a good reference from someone who knows the employer. So, here are some tips that can help as you begin networking.
Emails, Blogs, Newsgroups
You really cannot do all of your networking via email, but they are a good starting point. It doesn't hurt to email everyone you know, from family members and friends, to former work associates and beyond. Tell them your situation and job skills, and you never know who might have a friend who is in the field, someone with which they could put in a good word for you, or inform you of known positions in the field.
TIP: when it comes to emailing all of your professional contacts that are related to the career field, be sure to use the BCC feature in your email when writing and sending to a large audience all at once. Do not let all of the addresses to your recipients show openly, as many people do not want their personal contact information publicized that way. Send the email to yourself, and blind copy (BCC) your contacts.
There are many job blogs and tech email/chat groups that you could join that would put you in contact with other professionals, where you can share and learn and connect with others in the field. Keep communications up, and keep your name out there. Of course, it is important to keep a sense of professionalism in your comments and communications with people. A person will be less likely to refer you to a position, or recommend you to their employer, if you come off as a real jerk when chatting/writing.
Don't be afraid to expand your networking to areas outside of the directly related areas. You may think that your involvement in other activities, like sports, or church, or other groups and activities, may not be directly related. In actuality, those contacts may not be directly related, but they may in fact know someone that they could recommend you to.
Most people think that an interview is only for when you are going to present yourself in hopes of securing a job. However, there are interviews that you can request from a company, strictly to discuss and gather information about the company and skills that are offered at the company. Make a call, and see about reaching out to a manager or even just an employee in a position similar to your skill level. Asking them for a brief fifteen to thirty minute session is not usually a problem. Meet with them and discuss the type of work being done, the company itself, and the direction the company is heading. Find out what kinds of technology they are actively using at the time, and where they see the company going, technology wise, in the near future. Get an inside scoop on how you may better bolster your skill set for such a position.
Remember, you are not speaking with them to in anyway ask them about a position for you, or anything with job placement; you are simply gathering information, making contacts, building relationships, and continuing the networking plan.
Jeff McCormack resides in Virginia Beach, VA. where he works as a web designer by day. In his off time he is a husband, father, mail order book store manager, and musician. Aside from being a freelance writer for this Tech Careers blog, he also seeks to assist in career choices and information by contributing to other Nexxt blog sites.