Networking, my weakest skill!

Like many learners here, I’m interested in eventually switching careers. I’ve been studying off and on for a while, but now I’m finally focused on making DAILY progress and I feel like I’m coming along at a satisfactory speed. I realize there is an actual metric ton more to learn, not to mention any portfolio projects and practice, but I’m taking it all step by step. However, one thing I’ve seen repeatedly mentioned on many articles and forums (including this one) is that networking is a necessary skill in the tech industry, especially if you want to find a job. Could someone break that down for me? I feel like this is my biggest weakness, as far as necessary skills go. I’m not exactly sure where to look or how to begin networking. Any suggestions on forums to join, discussions to get involved with, people to talk to? I’d like to start working on this sooner than later…

Hi @fourleagues !

I would say that networking is one strategy to help you land interviews so you can show what you can do and land a job.
As a self taught developer, there are many ways to land a job.

For me, I choose to go down the path of getting involved with the community and building connections.
Others took a different path to landing their first jobs.

You will learn pretty quickly that everyone has their own story and opinion on how to land that first job.

Here is how I approached it

I was coming from an unrelated field (I musician before working as a developer) so I didn’t know any professional developers.

Learning how to code was new to me and I didn’t want to do it alone.
So I started participating in online communities and getting involved with the conversations where other tech professionals were hanging out at.

I first joined the freeCodeCamp forum and started answering questions and participating in the conversation.
I also read tons of previous posts about what other developers were doing in the community.

I started joining more discords, slack groups, twitter, devto, etc to connect with other developers.
The more involved I got with the community the more I started to learn from others who where in a similar boat that I was in.
That’s where I learned about different groups and meetups I could attend.

Some of the groups I enjoyed very much while others where not my style.

I spent months participating in different online events, talking with people on slack groups or discord, joining twitter spaces, and attending meetups.

Throughout his whole time, I was building projects, and sharing my progress with the community.

When the job opened up at the company I am at now, I had already been attending their meetups and online events for months so a lot of the developers were already familiar with me.
So I decided to apply and was able to land the technical interview and get the job.

To sum up, networking is about getting involved with the community and building relationships with people over time.

There is so much going on in the community between all of the twitter spaces, slack groups, meetups, discords, hackathons, open source projects, etc. that there are ways for you to get involved.

When you focus on building genuine connections with people in the industry and are active in the community it can open up doors to make the job process a little bit easier.

Networking is definitely a long term play.
This is not something that happens over a few weeks.

Building genuine connections takes time.

I would suggest listening to Leon Noel’s and Danny Thompson’s advice for self taught developers because they have a lot of great advice for networking too.

Hope that helps!

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If you google you’ll find statistics like 85% of all jobs are found through networking. There’s also articles countering this claim, mostly saying this number is a combination of networking, plus other things related to the job.

The main thing to take away from this number, even if it is skewed, is that network is important, but not the only thing required to get a job.

There’s great advice above in regards to reaching out and building a network digitally. I’ll expand on this and include more “personal” networking. This could be friends, family, peers, co-worker (present and former), and students you met in the past.

You might say, “but none of these people are in tech?” that’s fine, you don’t need them to guide/direct you into the industry, their job is to provide an “in” to where they currently (or even formerly) work. If your friend works at a company, that company probably has an internal job site, and all companies need some form of tech. They might be able to refer you (and possibly get a bonus for doing so!) and act as a personal reference.

This is the core of networking. Unless you are a recluse with 0 personal connections to any human being for your entire life, odds are you already have some form of a personally network. You don’t need all your friends to be working in the industry you want to work, they just need to be able to vouch for you as a person.

Finally its worth keeping the journey in mind. Don’t ask just the friend that works at the big global company, or reach out to the former friend who is not working at Google. Any company that just has a “tech” job, coding or otherwise, can help be a stepping stone to getting where you want. Do not just aim for the “dream job” straight out of the gate, your welcome to, but do not discount alternate routes. Something as simple as the local small business requiring some internal app development your family friend used to work at could be your “in”, don’t underestimate it!

If anything asking around, and putting yourself out there could lead to your friend’s friend giving you a call just to see how things are going, and possibly point out some jobs they have. As I mentioned earlier, most jobs have some form of referral bonus attached, so there is always an incentive to hire.

Good luck, keep learning keep growing :+1:

PS. There is a weird statistical stat, where for most people, your friends have more friends than you. So putting yourself out there is actually more likely to help than trying to promote yourself only directly.

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This makes sense, and I figured as much. That’s why I want to get started sooner than later. I don’t yet know enough really participate in hackathons or open-source but I’m itching to get there. In the meantime, I have a long road of learning ahead of me.
Is there such a thing as several newer people working together on a project? (I guess that’s open source)
I’ve also seen volunteer coding work, but I’m not sure of the specifics for that one

There is the collab lab.

There is an application process and if you make it in, then you will build a project together and there will be mentors there to help guide you.
I have a few friends who serve as mentors there.
I don’t know when the next cohort starts but they do this several times a year.

When it comes to open source, there are a lot of beginner friendly issues.
The problem is trying to find those projects.

I would suggest looking into OpenSauced which has been doing great work to help people get started with open source

Also, Eddie Jaoude is a big figure in the community for open source.

You can get involved with his community and see what open source opportunities are available.

Also, freeCodeCamp is open source :slight_smile:
With the ongoing building of the new project based curriculums, there will be issues coming up that will be beginner friendly.

Hope that helps!

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