By Mariah Wagner and Samantha Reif

When it comes to your tech career, networking will always be essential. Even in today’s socially distanced environment, networking occurs in many different ways. With that said, what is your networking approach? Do you know how to use networking to your advantage? Benchmark IT’s Senior Technical Recruiter, Mariah Wagner, and Technical Recruiter, Samantha Reif, share their insights on the benefits of networking and ways to do it.

The Purpose of Networking
One of the primary purposes of networking is to share and develop professional expertise, best practices, and insights with like-minded professionals. Networking allows you to interact with people within your desired field and create lasting relationships. It’s often difficult to “put yourself out there” in situations that involve face-to-face interaction, or in today’s environment, virtual interactions. It’s important to remember to go outside your comfort zone by sharing ideas and starting or contributing to a conversation. Doing so will enable you to establish relationships that may help you and others in the future.

When you are in a networking environment, you need to remember why you are networking. What is your goal when it comes to networking? You could be networking to find a job, build your brand, or to promote your company.

As an example, we recently established Women with WITS – Women in Tech: Stamford, a Meetup group designed to help women in tech build relationships, and share ideas about growing their tech careers. As recruiters, we both have vast professional relationships, and we wanted to create a place where our connections can help and learn from each other.

How to Go About Networking When Everyone is Social Distancing
Samantha: There are many ways to network while remaining safe and social distancing. First, join a virtual meetup group. We first had the intention of starting WITS as an in-person meetup group. When the COVID-19 pandemic disallowed in-person contact, we quickly evaluated how to continue our group for women in tech. We created a virtual meetup where women in technology came together to present an informative topic and contribute to the conversation. There are many virtual groups for networking while social distancing.

Mariah: You can find these groups on LinkedIn, Meetup.com, and virtually any social media platform. You can find people with similar interests to you or are in the same field, which sparks a great networking opportunity.

Samantha: Along with virtual meetups and online events, reconnect with people you’ve had a connection within the past. Now more than ever, communication is very important. Have phone conversations with former co-workers or contacts, go on a Zoom call with people that you share common ground with, or even send a LinkedIn message. It’s great to catch up with people and it can be used to your benefit as a networking opportunity.

The Advantages of Building a Network in the Tech Industry
Samantha: One of the most significant advantages of networking in the technology industry is discovering what’s currently trending. Technology is always changing and improving, and you have the opportunity of learning more about these changes through conversations with others in the tech industry.

Mariah: Networking serves as an opportunity for you to put new or relevant information in front of your audience. For instance, our extensive network within the tech industry allowed us to promote WITS on LinkedIn and spread to people who found it relevant to them. Connections, especially on LinkedIn, are an advantage if you are trying to promote or share new information. The more genuine relationships you have, the higher your success rate for learning or teaching others within the tech industry.

Advancing Your Career Through Networking
Mariah: Networking is an excellent way to build self-confidence. People often find interviews or professional interactions with nerve-wracking, especially when it comes to talking about yourself. Networking is a great way to practice and nail down your “elevator” pitch for future interactions. In general, networking is a great way to establish yourself as a mentor, thought leader, or potential service provider or employee.

Samantha: Networking also creates a platform to find new opportunities for your career. Recently, I have spoken with several people who have found jobs through networking. They created a relationship with someone, and that person helped leverage an opportunity within their company. Hiring managers today are receiving tons of applications and resumes daily. Utilizing your network increases your chance of getting noticed, advancing your career, or getting into a new role.

Mariah: Sometimes knowing someone within a company sets you apart from other applicants. Building your network absolutely advances your career.

Educational Benefits
Mariah: Personally, I learn about technology through conversations I have with IT professionals. This translates well to networking. Discussing topics about the many aspects of technology with someone very knowledgeable in the field increases your knowledge and awareness of specific technologies.

Samantha: In our last WITS meetup, one of our members advised another member on how to put herself out there more. This individual wanted to become a developer, and the other members were giving her great advice on how to start her career in tech. Through this conversation, she learned from other peoples’ experiences and can apply it to advance her own career.

Another significant networking opportunity, right now, is learning about diversity and what other people go through in their careers. Our Women in Tech meetup group is not just for women, but rather a group where all people come together and educate each other on what it’s like to be a woman in the technology industry. Inclusion is essential in networking and gives a lot of educational opportunities.

Where to Network: In-Person and Online
Samantha: Networking takes place anywhere you want. Networking occurs in a restaurant or online or at a professional meetup. There is no limit to when and where you can converse and make connections with people. One tip is to remember to “give more than you get.” Networking isn’t just about what others can do for you, but about how you can individually contribute to a group and help others in their careers or personal journeys.

Mariah: As mentioned before, online platforms are an excellent way to make connections. Websites such as LinkedIn, Github, Stack Overflow, and other social networks offer groups and other networking opportunities that are all virtual. It’s a great idea to join specific LinkedIn groups that are geared toward your interests or job as it allows you to make connections with people who are similar to you.

Networking as a whole is very beneficial to your career and helping the careers of others It gives many opportunities to educate yourself and others, advance your career, and create lasting relationships that will benefit your future.

Want to learn more about networking or discuss new technology opportunities? Reach out to our team here at Benchmark IT by calling 203.304.5500 or click here to go to our Contact Page.

About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT –Technology Talent offers IT consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services throughout the metro New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Established in 2007, its proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service have made them a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-ups, and growth-phase firms in the Tri-State area. For additional information, visit www.bmarkits.com