Networking is always considered as one of the most important things to do to be successful – but what does this mean? The definition of networking is “
Conferences: Make business cards or make sure to ask for them after striking up a conversation – don’t be shy to approach people! Everyone has been in your shoes at some point, especially those in SWE. They may have been a collegiate looking for opportunities, transitioning into the workplace, ran into challenges that they can advise you on, and more! Be the one to start that conversation – don’t be afraid to talk to the person sitting next to you.
Events/Workshops: Many events encourage networking between collegiates, alums, and industry professionals whether they may be devoted to networking (speed networking, roundtables) or skill development workshops (tech talks, info sessions). If what one is talking about interests you, inquire more and don’t be afraid to talk to them after the event and get their contact information to stay connected with them.
Other settings: You never know who you may encounter when getting involved outside of SWE as well! Attend events with other professional organizations, especially in collaborative events with SWE. When traveling from place to place, namely to and from conference, you might encounter another person that would be helpful in your network. When volunteering at outreach or even at conference, make the most of volunteering and some down time by talking to one another.
LinkedIn: It’s important to keep your networking alive and LinkedIn provides an excellent platform to keep connected with the people you meet in a professional setting. It helps people put a face to a name and cuts the awkwardness that may come when simply reaching out to them via e-mail or phone. Stay active on your LinkedIn, continue to keep adding new connections that you make, and keep up with the past connections you have made to keep your network alive and thriving!
All in all, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to start a conversation, ask some questions (both professional and conversational), and be an active listener. It does not hurt to start with a gentle “Hello” and it possibilities are endless.