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Networking for IT Professionals: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

May 13, 2014

Over 50% of jobs are filled through the hidden job market. Depressing for those who are on the job search, but promising for ones who have already mastered the art of networking.

Yes, networking. That term has been drilled into our brains and splashed across the internet over recent years, but let’s face it- it is here to stay. The days of going into a business and physically handing a resume to someone in attempts to get a job are long gone. Now, it’s either trying to catch the attention of a computer that scans your resume or, more importantly, knowing the right people.

Why You Need to Network

The number one reason IT professionals should network is to uncover those hidden opportunities. Did you know that most jobs are never publicized? If people know you are looking, they can keep their eyes out for potential job opportunities and even refer you. Experts from CareerXRoads state that nearly half of all companies hire someone who has been referred to them. That is a huge benefit considering that most job applicants never even make it past the application stage because “computer programs scan resumes for keywords and most get filtered out before a human even lays eyes on them,” says Aviram Ben Moshe, co-founder of CareerSonar, an online, social job discovery website. Hey, they don’t call it the “black hole” for nothing.

How to Network 101

Networking can seem very overwhelming. You might think, “I don’t know even where to begin or what to do.” Here are a few ideas on how to network effectively:

  1. LinkedIn – YOU MUST HAVE A LINKEDIN ACCOUNT. Yes, it is that crucial. LinkedIn has over 300 million members worldwide. Imagine the possibilities of who you can connect with by having capabilities to reach that many people. With that being said, make sure your profile stands out. You can do that by:
  • Creating a Headline– Don’t just use your current title. Be creative and tell people what you do exactly.
  • Write a Summary- Do not leave this blank. This is the place where you write about who you are, values, passion, and so on.
  • Utilize Endorsements and Recommendations
  1. Join Something – Networking doesn’t mean you have to go to an official networking event where you feel nervous and forced to engage with others. Look into joining a softball team or look for special interest organizations to join like Think IT. Think IT is a peer-to-peer professional development that has groups meet on a monthly basis in an informal, roundtable format with a different member from the group facilitating.
  1. Ask Non-Traditional Questions –Get people to discover something deeper about what you know by asking them a question they wouldn’t expect. This can lead to a deep, meaningful conversation that can leave a lasting impression and potentially build a new relationship.

Who to Reach Out to

Everyone! Well, ok, not literally everyone. But you should reach out to friends, past co-workers and current coworkers. As our managing partner, Richard Walker, always says, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you!” Use LinkedIn to reach out to professionals that you don’t know by either using their “introduction” tool or sending a personal message.

LinkedIn is also a great place to join group discussions that pertain to your field and create new connections. Look into attending an informational interview with a potential employer or company that you are interested in. The more your network grows, the more opportunities you will have.

With the average person now only staying at a job around 4 years, the need to network is greater than ever. Those professional contacts could be a great lead to land your next dream job or you could even become a contact that lands someone else a job!

Do you work on building your network? What is the best way to go about doing so?

Posted By: Danielle Toste


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