Part 1 of the “Building The Ultimate Software Engineer” Series
Your professional network is as valuable as your technical skills.
I generate content for this blog by asking hiring managers about their careers and what they would have done different. The #1 response I receive is, “I wish I would have started my professional network earlier.” Seriously 9 out of 10 tell me this, so listen.
Most admit it was a lot of work to develop good connections as they grew their career. It was out of their comfort zone, but they took action and did it.
Building a professional network may seem like a simple concept and it is. The concept is - The more people I know, the more access to information I can use and learn from.
Some reasons why its important
- Meeting like minded technical professionals to learn from
- Gaining industry specific information crucial to your current project
- Keep up on the latest in techniques and methodologies
- Great source for code suggestions
- Great career connections
- Introduction to new languages
- Developing a mentor relationship
- Building motivation to go the extra mile.
Why do hiring managers care about a Professional Network? .
Think of it this way. If you can save your client/employer time and money by using your sphere of influence to bring in a solid solution/concept, how much more valuable do you become to your employer. Twice, or more, as much as you are now?
“I don’t need to network I’m connected on-line.”
New web based social media tools are very helpful. You should at least have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account. (Also, blogging and frequent participation in tech forums are a great way to establish yourself and connect with others.) BUT you need to build your network with purpose. It’s not just adding friends to your Facebook profile. It’s connecting with thinkers and writers and people that impress you.
Then there’s maintenance.
Just like the App you release needs to be maintained, so does your network. To maintain your network be proactive and connect with people face to face, or on the phone. Spend some time (but not too much time at work) and give something back. Share your experiences (work related), ask what you can do to help. Remember this is about connecting with people and being personable. This isn’t a one way street. You have to be proactive and give of yourself.
To get you started:
User Groups – click here for a good calendar
- Ruby Users of Minnesota
- Twin Cities Java User Group
- Twin Cities PHP User Group
- Minnesota Flash/Flex/AIR Programmer Group
- Object Technology User Group
- ColdFusion User Group
- Groovy Users of Minnesota
- Twin Cities Quality Assurance Assoc.
- Twin Cities System Administrators
- Twin Cities .NET User Group
- Twin Cities XNA User Group
- Twin Cities SharePoint User Group
- Twin Cities SQL User Group
- Twin Cities Microsoft CRM User Group
Conferences/Events – Check listings for show times
Even the best developers can’t grow on an island
To make it crystal clear - you can’t grow your career in a vacuum. You need to be connected. Think about what you can do to get build your network.
In the future I’ll talk about using networking to find a mentor and the benefits of actively working with a mentor.