You’ve probably heard that networking is an essential skill for professional success. People need people. Social connections are sources of growth for learning and sharing knowledge, job opportunities, and staying sane when issues arise.
How to go about professional networking is not discussed as often, however. Try these tips to make these meaningful connections with others in the tech industry.
Join an online tech community
One networking method might be right under your nose: online forums for tools you already use or are interested in. For example, you might check out the Striim Community to learn about real-time data streaming, troubleshoot any issues, or share tips and tricks that could help other tech professionals.
What’s great about these online communities is that they’re highly likely to lead you to connections with others who do what you do. Chances are, no matter what your field, you can find a group of people clustered around some subtopic that’s relevant to you.
Invest time and patience
Networking is not a quick, one-off task. It takes genuine dedication to build and maintain relationships in any context, and professional contacts are no exception.
If you’re struggling to find time for your work relationships, consider scheduling time as if networking was a more “official” work task. Building rapport with a colleague or mentor over lunch could be just as valuable as checking off another job on your to-do list.
Keep in touch with social networking sites
Don’t be afraid to use more casual social networking sites with work friends, too. Remember how Twitter was once considered far too “silly” or “superficial” for professional environments? Now we have official Twitter accounts for world leaders and businesses across the globe.
Social networking sites can be an excellent tool for discovering new contacts based on interest or industry. Many feature means of separating your work and personal lives, whether that means creating separate accounts or filtering what content is visible to a particular audience.
Ask people you already know
A key component of networking is simply staying in contact with people you were once close to. Down the line, your former classmate, boss, or coworker might be able to turn to their professional network and expand yours.
It never hurts to reach out and ask for help. Try not to think of it as “using” people. No one is an expert on everything or knows all the right people. The rapid technological advancement makes it not only wise but necessary to lean on others to keep up.
Be friendly and helpful
Whether your goal is to maintain your professional relationships or forge new ones, consider how you want to present yourself. Maybe most of your networking will be online today, but that’s no excuse to engage impulsively.
Furthermore, you might ask yourself what you can contribute to the conversations around you beyond response or acknowledgment. All the time and effort you’ve put into your work could help others, drawing them to connect with you, too. For example, you don’t have to try to be the next Shakespeare to write an effective blog post.
A final word on networking
Professional networking may be easier than you think. It’s about finding and reaching out to like-minded people who could help you grow. Your network will naturally develop if you show up for people consistently and authentically.