Networking is the process of meeting new people with a connection to your professional life. They could be in the same field as you, someone who has the same interests as you or simply someone who could help you progress. Focussing on idea sharing, professional networking allows you to expand your knowledge and gain new connections which may come in useful at some point in your career. It can be a really helpful tool to get ahead, but many people don’t know how to do it effectively. In this article, we’ll look at 6 networking tips for women in tech.
Many people commonly mistake networking to only take place at formal ‘networking events’. However this isn’t the case, networking can occur at any time. You might meet someone at a social event who is in the same sector as you – this is a great networking opportunity. Similarly, often networking will occur in casual business settings such as in the office or at a work event. The end goal is to support your own and other people’s career paths.
Having a professional network has so many benefits, especially when it comes to finding a new job. In fact, 31% of job seekers find roles through their own professional network. And it’s not just about job seeking either, idea sharing and innovation often comes as a result of networking. Discussing projects and sharing results can help people to innovate in their own roles and problem-solve faster.
Here are 6 tips to help women in tech build their networks:
If you’re going somewhere where you’re likely to be networking, it’s important to plan ahead. Before you go, make a list of anything you’re looking to get out of the event. For example, is there a specific project you’re stuck and could use advice on? Are you in the market for a new job? If you can, research who is going to be at the event and see if any obvious links appear. This will help you to feel more prepared and ready to speak to the right people.
As well as planning how you can get value from the event, it’s key to be prepared about what you can bring to the table too. Networking is very much a two-way street, and you need to think about how you may be able to help people too. Keep an eye on our events page where we post networking events for women in tech.
It’s always beneficial to have your own pitch ready. As cliché as it sounds, an elevator pitch is a great way to communicate your objectives in a clear and concise way. Especially important for entrepreneurs, a short pitch will make you more memorable to the people you meet. Keep it short, a couple of sentences will do. This will also come in handy for when emailing new people or connecting on LinkedIn too. A good pitch should inspire people to continue the conversation, so think about things you do or are interested in which are conversation starters.
LinkedIn is one of the most useful online tools for networking, but a lot of people don’t know how to use it effectively. Your profile is the first place to start – make sure it’s kept up-to-date and complete. Your online profile will contribute to your personal brand, something which is becoming increasingly important given many networking events and webinars are held online. First impressions are now usually made online, so your LinkedIn profile is the first thing you should work on.
Once your profile represents you in the way you’d like it to, it’s time to start building your network. Consider connecting with people in similar roles and industries to you – use your pitch as an introduction when you send the request. LinkedIn also has hundreds of groups to join which are great networking tools. For example, join the Women in Tech LinkedIn group, a private space where thousands of women in tech roles discuss advice, experience and jobs together. Groups like this can help introduce you to key contacts who can help you on your career journey.
Sometimes it can be daunting to ask people you don’t really know that well for help, but it’s important to remember that everyone started somewhere. The person you’re asking for help was in your position at one point, and they can give key insight as someone who’s got experience of being where you are.
However, when asking for help remember not to ask for too much. Many people think networking is purely about getting a job so be careful to be clear that that’s not what you’re expecting. Focus on building the relationship rather than purely getting what you need.
As well as personal gain, a good networker will look for connections they can make to help other people too. As you get to know more people in your network and where their strengths lie, you’ll be able to connect the dots and introduce people who may be able to help each other. This is especially key when at an in-person networking event, as not only will you build your own reputation, you’ll be helping to make the event a success.
If you’re at a physical networking event, the most important thing to remember is to bring business cards. Every conversation you have should end with you exchanging contact details so you can follow-up at a later date. LinkedIn is a great tool here, as you can send a connection request straight away. When you send the invitation, include a small intro about who you are and what you spoke about to ensure you’re not forgotten. This will establish a line of communication with them so you can follow-up in future and stay in touch as their career progresses.
Networking is a hugely valuable tool and can be the key that unlocks your next job or business idea. For women in tech, having a role model or mentor can really help you progress and thrive in your career. Networking can be a good way to make these types of connections.