Getting your first job out of college is challenging enough, especially if you don’t have an internship or two under your belt. As you progress through the professional totem pole, networking becomes one of the key tactics that move you past the terrible automated resume submission turnstiles.
Whether you loathe or love networking, connections and people are what end up getting you a job. From online to in-person, these are just a few of the places you should be networking to find yourself a new job.
1. Industry Events and Conferences
Conferences are one of the best places to not only learn and expand on your professional, but also to network with your peers. Each year, some of your favorite organizations will put thousands of dollars into sponsoring, participating, and attending conferences around the world. Some have products and services to share, but many of them also use this as an opportunity to find the best talent (the ones they can poach).
Even if you're not into the various parties, chatting with people you sit next to in a session, while at lunch, or around the ever flowing coffee is an easy way to get started. For introverts, there is always the conference hashtag to chat with others and tee off a chat when you're comfortable or if things are really dire a bit of liquid courage.
Sorry, boss, you just sent your employee to meet with their dream job.
Unlike conferences and larger industry events, meetups are a lot more informal, they are also a lot lower in budget. That also means the conference hiring managers are also less likely to be in attendance unless they are speaking at or sponsoring the event.
Having put on more than my fair share of these, this is not only the place to meet some amazing friends, but also people who can help you get a foot in the door to work with them. Prior to heading to these, see if they have social accounts or even a Facebook or LinkedIn group.
This is a good way to get conversations going before heading to them. Meetup.com works somewhat well for this, but the larger more active groups frown upon this.
3. Continuing Education
From coding bootcamps to small seminars, there are a lot of ways to continue to grow professionally. This is especially true if you hold a certification, as most require you to maintain them and that often involves occasionally classes. These classes also provide you a great platform to meet other like minded professionals.
4. Causes or Charity Events
Companies of all sizes like to give back to their local community, which means you also have an opportunity to network with their teams. This is a bit of a grab bag as it’s hard to say who will attend and participate, but occasionally the larger organized events will say who is participating. The organization I work for, Blue Acorn, continuously participates in these types of activities, almost on a monthly basis. It’s not only a great way to giveback, but also meet locals in the community who might be a good fit both culturally and professionally.
What’s this, a professional network? Ah that’s what this LinkedIn thing is for. Beyond randomly throwing skill points to your friends, LinkedIn is probably the very best online resource for researching a company you’d like to work for and then connecting with their team.
Like physical events, there are social norms you must follow, you can’t jump from the first date to the interview, and these connections take time to establish. Even if you don’t have common connections, seek these professionals out as mentors, ask to pick their brains, or simply seek out advice about the company culture. Eventually you’ll want to turn these online connections to in-person.
Bonus: The Follow-Up
Now that you've met some great people it's time to move from business cards and pleasantries to actually forming a relationship. Emails are okay, tweets are weak, but face-to-face adds more value. Though everyone has their preferences and may not have time, if you can adjust to their schedule and meet near their office for coffee, 15 minutes is easy to grab. Don't wear a suit for these, it's not an interview.