Building and maintaining a professional network is a career-long undertaking that requires dedication and patience. The payoff, sometimes decades later, can be profound.
“Develop a Network” is one of the essential 12 behaviors and actions to adopt and practice from Success in the Technology Field that will help you to advance or prepare for a career in technology. The twelve recommendations involve adopting crucial behaviors that apply throughout your career, as well as specific actions you should take at different stages of your career.
Building your professional network can be one of the most beneficial things you can do to succeed in your career. But it is also an endeavor that takes significant, sustained effort. While it is true that many individuals in the technology field tend to be more analytically oriented and introverted, that is not to imply such individuals cannot have profound and incredibly positive relationships with others. Yet, too many technologists fail to spend sufficient time and effort building the skills and behaviors to create a robust professional network that can appropriately support their careers.
Network for Success
In whatever stage of your career, it always makes sense to continue to invest in building and then maintaining your professional network. There are three key steps you should take in developing your professional network:
- Start with Your Organization—Work to get to know other employees throughout your organization, emphasizing developing relationships with others working in technical or process disciplines in which you have an interest.
- Find the Right Professional Association—Associations are a meaningful way to broaden your network rapidly. You should pick an association that suits you and fits well with your career goals.
- Effectively Use Social Media—Leverage social media, but do it by providing meaningful information to members of your network. Insightful, periodic posts can help position you as a thought-leader.
You need to invest in your network. Make yourself available as support to others in your network. For those you admire, be proactive, letting them know you can serve as a professional reference if they are looking to change positions. If some of your network members are self-employed, recognize they are most likely always looking for new business opportunities. Make introductions between members of your network who could possibly forge mutually beneficial relationships. People will remember such gestures of support for decades. While you will not get an immediate return for your generosity, it is surprising how often such gestures are paid back with some favor or introduction.
Remember your reputation—your professional network can become a liability to you if you are a person who lacks professionalism or integrity. While the technology field is quite large and diverse, it becomes relatively small within particular subject areas. You should make sure you are on the right side of the line when it comes to having a positive reputation. This is particularly the case when it comes to integrity—your professional network can become a liability to you if the word on the street is that you are a person that lacks integrity.
Building and maintaining a professional network is a career-long undertaking that requires dedication and patience. The payoff, sometimes decades later, can be profound. By all means, make it a habit to continually develop your professional network through your employer, a professional association, and social media. Whether an introvert or extravert, if you have a sincere interest in others and show respect, the vast majority of people will respond positively. This networking will pay long-term professional and personal dividends. It has another significant benefit in the near term as well. It supports your effort to find the right mentors for you—mentors who can help you grow in your career.
Success in the Technology Field: A Guide for Advancing Your Career
Success in the Technology Field is a practical “how-to” guide for a career in technology. It presents a holistic model, incorporating skills and behaviors that help you define and attain your career goals, whether you aspire to be an executive, a leading technologist, or a successful product salesperson.