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Blog: Networking for Newbies and Career Changers – is it worth it?underline

Networking for Newbies and Career Changers – is it worth it? 

Across the course of my journey in recruitment, networking was always a vital part of growing business connections. Especially when you’re the new kid on the block, or in a new job!
If you're new to the experience, don't panic!

I find it helps to consider Networking as a recreational way to meet professionals. You're simply meeting them in an informal setting. So in this post, I wanted to share some pointers that I know will help you with your networking experiences. 

Networking is not a job interview

There's less pressure compared a client meeting or a job interview. Though, it's still daunting finding yourself striking up conversations with strangers. And a room full of strangers is a pretty unnatural setting. Especially when you're trying to make a good impression at the same time. Just be yourself as much as you can. 

Networking is not about selling

Networking events within digital and tech sectors have changed a lot. Gone are the stuffy business meetings with handshakes and business cards. Or where conversations feel like you're your part of a big pitch. Now, it's about building communities and promoting conversations around relevant topics. 

These topics can range from early tech careers talks, diversity in the sector, Ai and E-commerce, the list goes on... 
You don't have to currently be working in those sectors. Being a current learner, or looking to inform your career choice, is a proactive way to stand out in the market. 

Where and when to network

The key factor when starting out is to find an event close to you. One which focuses on your area of interest. 
You may be asking - "are there any benefits of putting yourself through this, as well as taking time out of your schedule?

My answer is and will always be yes!

For grads (as well as career changers) networking will play a key role in building your industry knowledge. 

You may well meet people who are already in your dream role, or find out about opportunities you may not be aware of. 

Networking is a great fact finding tool - you get information straight from the 'horse's mouth'. If a company you are particularly interested in is giving a talk - that's even better for your industry understanding.
You'll get a flavour for:

  • How people present themselves
  • Up to date industry news 
  • Insights into current projects 

Referencing these insights can help you standout on both a speculative cover letter, or at interviews. It shows more passion than someone who hasn't got a clue on what's happening in the industry. 
Networking's true 'tour de force' however, is giving a (mostly) free platform to flex your soft skills. And for me, that's been invaluable. 

Striking up a conversation and making a connection is a huge confidence builder. It's a key asset to bring at interview stage when applying for a role in your new chosen career. 
It doesn't come naturally. First time for most people is scary. But, the more events you attend, the more your communication skills will grow. 

And an active interest in the industry is also something that employers like to see. You can:

  • Show this on your CV
  • Share as updates on LinkedIn
  • Add to cover letters 
  • Talk about the events you attend during interviews

In a competitive job market - use all your tools at your disposal to stand out! 

Will networking get you a job? 

I see it as a job finding tool alongside job boards and LinkedIn. 

The best way to approach this is to have some goals in mind, before attending. 

Here's some common goals you can use for your next networking event:

  1. I want to get a contact / chat with a specialist recruiter in my region
  2. I want to speak to at least 2 senior professionals in my chosen sector for career advice
  3. I want to make sure I speak to 2 companies I'd like to work for in the future

Going in with a strong approach will make the experience feel worthwhile. And will help build your confidence. 

(TIP: Make sure you have your LinkedIn profile updated ready to connect when it feels beneficial)

What are you waiting for?

It's okay to go Networking by yourself. Flying solo here may feel scary, but it's a great way to push yourself our of your comfort zone. 

More often than not, other event attendees will be by themselves. And they will also looking to make contacts - with the same goals as you! 

At The Developer Academy, networking training is all part of our careers support across each of our Bootcamp courses.
We're big champions of the format. Having recently sponsored 'digitalThursday' in Leeds to help promote meaningful connections in digital and tech. 

If you ever see us out and about at an event, come and say hi - and find out about our bootcamps across software, testing, data and games. 

Or just come and introduce yourself for a lil' networking chat!

Connect with me (Amelie) on LinkedIn here