Networking is essential. According to a 2016 survey, 85% of job positions are filled through the power of networking. We live in a world where we can create a relationship with someone both virtually and in person and there are so many chances to make those relationships blossom. But how does one go about meeting new contacts and creating that long-lasting connection in the tech world? Let’s discuss.
How to Meet People in Tech
There are lots of different events in the tech world that professionals can both attend and take part in, giving them the opportunity to meet new people. Peers, along with leaders in the field, attend these tech events to share their knowledge and create connections, making tech events like Hackathons and tech conferences incredible networking opportunities.
At a Hackathon, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside a group of peers and against other teams with one goal: finding a solution to the problem presented. Throughout the competition, there are plenty of moments to share not only with the peers on your own team, but also with other participants. The solutions presented are quite creative and discussing them can be a great way to break the ice.
2. Tech conferences
Tech conference attendees are not only from around the world, but also boast varying positions at a long list of companies. You might be nervous about meeting so many new people, but people attend these events with the same goal in mind: talk to new people and make new connections.
The internet is a place where so many people connect and for people in tech, it’s an important space to meet new people, share ideas, and connect.
Social networks and online communities
Do you have LinkedIn? A Reddit account? Or how about Facebook? There are so many different social networks that assist in connecting people that share common interests and careers. As a result, these social networks connect professionals from all over, meaning that your network will have no restraints.
In addition to uniting tech professionals, it also helps create a personal brand. Since your profile is the first thing that people will encounter, it will have a huge influence on whether or not people decide to reach out.
Using Meetup, you can set up meetings in person. Although online groups are great for making virtual first contact as well as building strong bonds, these in-person events facilitate stronger connections.
Just like in college, tech courses throw a group of people together into a classroom to not only learn, but also socialize. By meeting people in classes, you can connect over the class itself, your interests, and your shared futures.
Workshops may be short term, but don’t count them out as a great way to meet new people! Sometimes they can be as short as one online class; nevertheless, the purpose behind all of these methods is to put tech professionals in contact with one another. Get the contact information of the instructor or another student during the workshop and work on maintaining that connection.
Do you still keep in contact with your friends from high school? What about college? When you attend a bootcamp, you’re together with a group of people in the same class all with the same goal and, just like with college and high school, that really unites people. Bootcamps can be done either remote or in person and if you do it abroad, you can even make contacts in other countries. People that don’t live in your immediate area have the potential to make a significant impact on your career.
3. Alumni network
Alumni understand your situation and often want to take people under their wing. Ironhack has a network of alumni working at companies around the world and could be of help to you.
Professional associations and organizations
When you were in college or high school did you belong to a club or fraternity that accepted you as an integral part of their organization? These groups may not be as common later on in life; however, they still exist for tech professionals. A lot of people look for camaraderie and support in their careers and organizations and associations such as the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) or ASIS International were created to unite and assist members from all over the world. There are organizations that exist on several levels so if an international group doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always find national and local level organizations that may suit you better.
There’s nothing like finding great coworkers and even though it’s obvious, they can serve as incredible contacts later on. But how can you leverage workplace contacts even further?
Your coworkers’ contacts
Coworkers are sometimes the people you most interact with and oftentimes are part of the same circles as you. But they can introduce you to other people they know and since you see them regularly, there’s nothing easier than telling your coworkers to invite one new person to happy hour to meet a whole new group of professionals.
2. Job interviews
It may seem odd, but job interviews offer opportunities to make new contacts even if the job isn’t a right fit for you in the end. When you have interviews and send emails with the same recruiter, you never know how they might pop up again later. They may believe that you are more suitable for a position that you hadn’t applied for or may even know other recruiters that could point you in a different direction.
These different situations and groups are how you gain access to people, but how do you approach them to have first contact and shine? Here are a few tips to leave a great first impression:
Tips for Making Conversation with a New Contact
Be brave and accept the nerves
Nerves and jitters are totally normal when meeting people for the first time. It may seem counterintuitive for most, but embracing those nerves can be helpful. When you're nervous, it’s best to accept that you’re feeling it and leverage that bubbling, invigorating energy to try to start that conversation. It may be hard to do so at the beginning, but after doing it enough times, those nerves will start to go away and you may even feel comfortable approaching a stranger.
Keep it professional
When you’re speaking to a potential business contact, the first conversation is the time to make a good first impression about your professional life and show them who you are; however, make sure that you keep it professional. It’s important to show who you are and what you represent as a tech professional, but there’s no need to bring up anything about a date you had last week that went really well or how your boss treats you poorly. Those may be topics on your mind at the time, but an interview isn’t the right time.
Know your body language
There are a lot of ways our bodies react naturally to having a conversation, conveying our feelings non-verbally. Although this won’t deter someone from speaking to you, it’s important to be aware of what you’re doing when having that conversation with a speaker. For example, if you cross your arms you may be trying to protect yourself and can come off as distant or cold to the other person.
When you’re talking to new people, it’s normal to want to be liked, especially when you’re trying to make new contacts, but it’s okay if there isn’t a connection off the bat. Trying to please them isn’t worth it because you are you; telling them opinions and lies about yourself will only get you so far before the truth emerges. Show them who you are, revel in it, and you’ll make the contacts that are right for you.
Building a strong professional network focuses on connecting with new people in various situations; new, everyday, online, or in person, the world is full of unlimited networking possibilities for any tech professional.
If you want to have access to Ironhack’s international alumni and hiring network that will support you in getting your first job right after graduation, check out Ironhack’s career services page for more information.