How to start ‘networking’ as a junior dev

I’ve had a few chats recently with people you are studying or have just finished studying at Enspiral Dev Academy about networking. The common question is how do I start networking if I don’t know anybody. So, here are a few ideas on how to get started.

Meet Up

logo-2xWhat is Meet Up?

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

I think I was introduced to Meet Up when I learnt about EDA. They have there own where every week there is a NodeSchool Wellington meet up and Ember.js School. They also semi-regularly have Tech Talks – like this one: Starting out with established codebases.

There are heaps of meet ups, and not just tech ones. Here are the ones I belong to, you don’t have to be really active in them. I’m not but if there is something that comes up that I am interested in I can jump onto it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 12.42.10 pm

One meet up that I think would be really good for those new to Ruby and Rails is Wellington Railsnoobs.

Back to way going to meet ups are good for networking. You will meet people in the industry, you can connect with people, you can learn what is going on and learn something new.

I have a goal of talking to at least two people I don’t know at meet ups. Otherwise I have a tendency to stand around and hide in a corner. It can also be good to see if anyone you know is going and see if you can go together, strength in numbers. Don’t let this stop you from introducing yourself to other people though. Perhaps work together to talk to people you both don’t know.

I find it useful to have thought of  few questions to ask when I introduce myself. “Hi, I’m Libby, I work at Flick, where do you work?” “Is this your first meet up?” “What do you do?”

Once you have the ball rolling, try to figure out if you have any common interests and make a connection. This doesn’t just have to be around coding, maybe they are into surfing and you can share the best places to go for a surf. Try and connect.

Twitter

I have Twitter useful while I was teaching and now as a developer it is great to keep up to date with what people are up to. The trick with Twitter is that you have to be active to really get the benefit from it – i.e. it is a “social” network, so you have to be social! I joined Twitter in 2011 but wasn’t really active on it until 2012. I didn’t get it until I started being more active on it.

Around the time I started being social on Twitter I started this blog for my Registered Teacher Criteria (something teachers have to do). I linked this to my Twitter account, so whenever I blogged, it would be tweeted as well. This is one way of being active.

Coming back to networking, start following people that interest you, tech companies, companies you want to work for, people you admire in the industry, sites that offer training. Start retweeting tweets you see that you find interesting. Every now and then add your own comment to the things you retweet.

If you aren’t sure who to follow, start looking at those you do and see who they follow. Have a look at some hashtags – #rails, #rubyonrails, #webdesign

Look at lists that people have created, here is one listing EDA people – https://twitter.com/SchuKnight/lists/eda/members, start following people off the list. You can also subscribed to other peoples lists.

Go here to learn more about Using Twitter lists.

If you are keen on getting started with Twitter but your not to sure how to, have a look at this 14 Day Twitter Challenge. It is for PE teachers but follow along and just change out PE things for web dev things.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.06.55 pm

Day 3 – find and follow, try this list of developers. Day 4 hashtag – #webdev. Day 13 – Twitter Chat – to come.

Friends and Family

Network with your friends and family. Start sharing what you are up to, what you want to do, what tech you are passionate about, what you want to make. Explain to them what Dev Academy is all about, or however you have been learning. Sooner or later someone will go ‘Oh, I know so and so who works at one of the biggest web companies in Wellington’. Funnily enough, through my mother chatting with someone in her ladies choir I could have made a connection with one of the head honchos at Springload. You never know who is connected to who, so talk it up with whoever will listen.

What ways do you network? Who should new developers follow on Twitter? What meet ups do you recommend for new developers? Do you have some advice for new developers who are just starting out with networking?

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