Networking Tips for Software Developers
The image of the shy, nerdy software developer has been a stereotype haunting the technology landscape for years. Because of pop culture, people of tech are often associated with awkward fictional characters struggling with social recognition and, of course, girls. This generalization left thousands of people marked as “nerds” who never leave their houses and fail at making new friends.
But in spite of the common misconception, the past years have introduced us to a new generation of young and charming computer professionals, lifting the veil on the true face of the tech scene. Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Mason, and Peter Cashmore are the bright examples of successful, charismatic programmers who are anything but shy. After seeing these software engineers taking the stage, it is time we change our perspective and stop associating developers with geeky introverts.
Networking as a Software Engineer
So next time someone tries to put an “antisocial” label on you, explain to them why they couldn’t have been more wrong. A rare person knows that to become a successful developer and secure a well-paid job, you need to effectively communicate with people and constantly prove your level of expertise.
Working with Humans of Tech and hosting DrinkEntrepreneurs, GetLinks knows how important networking can be to developers. To help kick off your career, we ‘ve prepared a list of 6 proven networking tips every Software Engineer should follow:
1. Don’t Put Networking on the Back Burner
Most of us only start worrying about meeting the right people when we need something. However, building a professional network solely for your personal gain is never a good idea. Instead of focusing on how others can help you, think of how you can become a valuable member of the tech community.
Never go into a networking event with the intention of leveraging other people. Building professional relationships is about becoming a part of a bigger community where you bring value.
2. Be Ready to Present Your Work
Software engineering is something that requires hard skills and knowledge, as well as a sense of professionalism. It is useless to brag about your beautiful lines of code if you cannot present your work.
Before you start networking, spend some time creating a professional, well-designed portfolio. Building a website, updating your portfolio, and running a blog takes time but trust us on this one: People will treat you differently if you come off as a sleek professional. Act as an expert and don’t be afraid to show it to others.
Real Life Example: One of our aspiring developers had a hard time finding a job. So he focused on building his portfolio by helping friends and family. Shortly after, he had some amazing works to showcase, which allowed him to land a job at a large corporation.
3. Set Up a Professional Email Address and Get Some Business Cards
Despite the impression that business cards have no value in the modern world, entrepreneurs still use them during meetings, conferences, and trade shows. Be a pro and get yourself a stack of name cards you can exchange with fellow developers.
Pro Tip: Avoid including your personal email like [email protected]. If you have resources to print business cards, you definitely have enough to invest in a personalized email address.
4. Find Networking Events
Finding the right events shouldn’t be hard for people who know their way around the Internet. GetLinks recommends browsing Meetup.com, Eventbrite, and Facebook’s Developer Circles, as well as keeping an eye on our DrinkEntrepreneurs event.
If you don’t have money to attend professional business conferences (sometimes a ticket can be as expensive as $1000), monitor smaller local events. Go to meetups of like-minded people to discuss current trends, exchange ideas and hacks, visit tech-related forums and panels, attend lectures, and participate in workshops. Those places are oversaturated with people passionate about technology.
Pro Tip: If you feel like you have hard times socializing with people, read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie; This book will change the way you communicate with others forever.
5. Do Your Homework
Before attending any event, do research on the companies and the individuals attending. This will give you an idea with whom you should connect and build relationships. Dig deeper and find information on people’s backgrounds so you have a list of topics to go through during your conversations. That will show your enthusiasm and eagerness to connect on a more personal level. Ask people about their experiences, current projects, and challenges they are working on at the moment. Let this guide your conversation.
If you usually stress about talking to new people, preparing a list of topics and questions to discuss might become a game-changer. But make sure to speak like you’re in equal footing to reduce the stress and improve the quality of the conversation.
6. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Don’t disappear into thin air on people you’ve just met. Exchange contact information, get their business cards, and connect on social media. After the event, decide with whom you would like to cultivate a relationship.
Follow up via email or LinkedIn within a few days after the event. Be specific and remind a person about your interaction. Spark your connection’s memory. You can bring up something you’ve discussed and propose a logical next step like meeting in person. You will be surprised by how many people are actually happy to connect and exchange experiences.
Networking Isn’t All About Business Events
Networking is not about leveraging people, it’s about cultivating a community. To get the most out of this experience show your passion, curiosity, and be ready to help others.
If you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the idea of “meeting new people”, broaden your perspective and start expanding your connections all the time. Enjoy connecting with people and you will see how your network can grow naturally. With a positive mindset and good friends by your side, you will turn career search into a fun, pleasant experience.