As we navigate the uncertainties to move towards a post-pandemic world, we still rely on social distancing to safely carry out our business. Translating this to your tech job search process means that while you may not have to commute towards career fairs, meetups, frequent conferences, you will still need to be proactive in your virtual networking skills to garner support from the right people that can help you land your dream tech job.
Virtually networking like any other skill takes practice. As a tech professional, if you are someone who would rather tuck away by yourself or escape into your own projects while wishing that someone acknowledged and paid you for the talent you bring, you might want to put in a little more effort. Nevertheless, networking the right way is far more essential now, no matter your personality type because the competition is tough and the job search process can no longer be left to an “apply and wait for their response” approach anymore.
Thankfully, there are more ways than one to ensure that your virtual networking skills are on point to accentuate your career opportunities. At the least, with these networking tips, you should be able to bring some wind beneath your wings.
There are three things crucial to networking that helps you win half the battle:
1.Knowing who to meet:
Hitting send on the website job application page doesn’t cut it anymore. Your resumes may be going to an endless black hole. Ensure that at least a real person gives you a real shot at your dream tech job. There are many ways to go about looking for the right kind of people:
Connect with your existing network:
More often than not, it’s great to start looking for people within your own connections of friends, family, and colleagues who could potentially boost your career growth. Many people may also hesitate to reach out to a stranger directly but are looking for jobs while fighting job search anxiety. So for those people, No place better to start than from home.
You can use your close connections as an intermediary who could help introduce you to someone that may be able to refer you for a job. This usually happens when you go to conferences and meet-ups in person, but since we are networking during the pandemic, an e- meet or video chat could be an alternative. This is beneficial for both parties because it brings an element of familiarity for your initial meeting and it’s easier for people to talk to someone they feel like they could trust rather than a complete stranger.
Get back in touch with colleagues that you haven’t connected with for a long time. Collaborate with your circle of developers, designers, product people, QA people, and software engineers on their projects. Ask them how they are doing and if there is anything that you could help with. They may also be able to share details about new events that are happening, challenges you can participate in, or maybe internal hirings that haven’t gone out yet.
Speakers and event hosts:
You could connect with local influential speakers or virtual event hosts that make an impact in your area of work. Having relevant questions to ask, using the common chat boxes to learn more about them and what they are working on could be a great way to start a conversation. Networking with people who are well established in their field will not only be able to offer you invaluable guidance but also mentor you to explore career opportunities strategically.
There are many communities of new and established people in tech that encourage and learn from each other through blogs Usually, bloggers have options where they highlight pre-picked blog sections for you to tweet or share on social media. If you find something genuinely helpful or interesting, share it on social media with a thank-you note for the author or learn more through a discussion. You could also ask them about something relevant that you may be currently struggling with. That’s another way to build genuine rapport.
Finding yourself the right tech community to network with during social distancing will help you gain an insight into their ongoing projects and opportunities through blogging. If you are a blogger yourself, that can be another way to help solve problems for other people through your experiences and hopefully interact and learn more. You can find lots of developers blogging in hacker noon, medium, dev. to, freecodecamp.org or other personal blogs depending on your tech expertise and interest.
Since career fairs are out of the question while we are social distancing, you can email a hiring manager, a department at your dream tech company, or an external recruiter with an intent to explore career opportunities that may now be available at their company along with a compelling cover letter attached to your resume. You need not be ashamed of networking through cold calls as long as you keep the conversation professional and you respect their time.
2. Knowing how to connect with them
One great way to network with other engineers is to volunteer for a personal project or other ongoing side projects that you may be interested in. Maybe you are contributing to GitHub or stack overflow, or you have a portfolio ready at behance. Keep working on yourself consisitently.
Your volunteering experience will not only be essential to help you work in a team but also may give you a chance to build meaningful relationships over the course of your work. With a good rapport and support, your networking skills should land you long-lasting relationships with your team.
Hackathons, and coding challenges:
Hackathons are not just about building project management, prioritizing, and problem-solving skills. Internal hackathons are a great way to cut across company bureaucracy and foster innovative techniques, and in doing so building great rapport and connection within teams. It keeps you in touch with the latest trend which is one great way to know if you may need some upskilling.
Although they may not have a direct impact on networking during the pandemic, your cumulative experience in hackathons and coding challenges could give you ground to talk about your experiences, your approach to problem-solving when interacting with other engineers or during interviews. Basically, they build on your networking by adding substance to the kind of work you have been exposed to.
Social media, virtual conferences, and forums:
Use hashtags to find a community of like-minded people. You can use them on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to stay updated with the latest news and people that are influencing your field. You could involve in forums like hacker news, stack overflow, discord, Reddit, etc to interact with people.
Online conferences are great for interaction or a chance to network too. You can ask questions to the speaker or chat with them after the event is over. Then depending on how the conversation goes, you could follow them on social media, talk about both your ongoing projects. A genuine comment represents that you are participating and engaging with them in some way which can be a great start. Consistent likes and shares could show that you are really interested in what they want to say but there is nothing like a thoughtful interaction to build a solid relationship.
3. Knowing what to say
Lead with empathy:
When we get to know someone, we tend to understand their perspective on work and life better. Share similar experiences, talk about what inspires you at work, or some common grievances. Connect with aspects other than their work; maybe you both like the same football league or beer or use the same form of workout. Getting to know someone personally helps to empathize and understand the other person better which helps to build a stronger foundation of work relations.
Bring value to the table:
Your networking skills are put to test when you try to approach someone who is a complete stranger to you. The job is to understand what you could offer them as your service that may be valuable to them in return for something they bring to you.
Such relationships can build immense trust if you follow through on your contributions. Networking with people where you can offer something of value gives them a more compelling reason to invest their time in you. Otherwise, it just looks transactional and superficial to the extent that they might think you are selfishly out to get them.
Specific and relevant:
Be considerate of another person’s area of expertise, their time, and your proposition. For example, if you came in contact with an external recruiter, you want to talk about the projects you have worked on without delving too much into the intricacies of it. Talk to them about qualities that might make you a great candidate for a job. They might be able to relate better.
Another way to stay specific and relevant is by allowing the person you networked with to remember where you met them when you follow up. Maybe you spoke to someone at a virtual event. When you follow through, re-introduce yourself and mention where you met them last and briefly about what you discussed. This gives this person a chance to recall what your conversation might be about and save time.
Moving forward with virtual networking skills
Although we cannot socialize in person, we can definitely adapt virtual means to continue to build and strengthen our professional network Whether you are a seasoned techie in the “biz” or a rookie out to set your own path, you will more often than not rely on your networking skills to land your next tech job. These virtual networking tips show how to communicate with real people while social distancing. They can help you take charge of your communication to further your career goals rather than just sending out resumes and hoping to hear back.