Networking is a powerful tool in any industry, but especially in tech and especially for women, who are still underrepresented in the industry. Networking can give you access to opportunities, insights, and support for personal and professional growth.
We know networking can seem intimidating or time-consuming – or both. So we’re here with info and tips to help you understand why it’s important and how to do it strategically so you can get the most out of the connections you make.
Reasons To Network
Networking is one of the best ways to develop your career, if you have plans to change jobs now or want to be the best in the role you already have. So many opportunities (especially in today’s digitally-connected, global world) come through personal connections so having a robust network is an investment in yourself now and for the future.
Some of the benefits you can get from having contacts in tech and beyond include:
So many Tech Ladies have shared with us that they found out about a role or even got a job because of their network. Whether it’s being the first to know about an open position or asked to speak on a cool tech panel, networking can be the way you find out about opportunities you might not have come across in just an online search. In fact, a strong network can be the best form of job security.
The tech industry is always changing. New tools and technologies, not to mention whole new fields (like crypto, AI, immersive reality, etc) are constantly developing. Having a wide network can give you exposure to these innovations so that you’re never behind in your knowledge.
Having peers and mentors that make you feel confident and valued is critical. Your network can be the place where you can share experiences, get advice, and celebrate wins so you get the sense of belonging and empowerment you deserve
Your network is also a place where you can grow as a thought leader or expert, and this increased visibility can give you both confidence and more recognition in your current role and for the future.
Places To Network
As a woman in tech, finding the right spaces and people to connect with is especially important. Many of the best places to network fall under one of the categories below. We recommend giving them all a try since you never know where your next great connection will come from.
It’s easy to forget that where you are now could be one of the best places to network. You can nurture relationships individually or in small groups over coffee or lunch or with regular Slack DMs if you’re remote. Or get to know other employees at company meetups or in ERGs or other company-sponsored activities.
If you’re not currently working, consider getting in touch with teammates, supervisors, or even clients from past jobs or volunteer organizations you’ve been involved with.
When you join a community, you gain a whole network of folks with similar interests and experiences right away. After that, it’s just a matter of taking advantage of what the group has to offer.
Tech Ladies, for example, is a community that’s all about creating fun, low-pressure ways for you to grow your network, virtually and in person. And, if you wan to really boost your network, Tech Ladies offers Pro Membership that gives you curated intros to other members, a private Slack, group career coaching, and early access to events.
Speaking of events, attending industry happenings is a great way to quickly expand your network. Look for ones that align with your interests and career goals. These can range from conferences for specific industries, technologies, or groups to local workshops to learn new skills to hackathons and coding competitions.
Tech Ladies events are held online every week and in-person quarterly, are open to everyone, and include sessions with career coaches, q&as with tech experts, interactive webinars on job search and professional skills, meetups with companies looking to hire, speed networking, and more!
Online platforms are a powerful way to connect with people next door or on the other side of the world. And, as you can imagine, the tech industry is strongly represented on different social media platforms.
LinkedIn is a clear choice for professional connections nowadays, but don’t overlook social media like X/Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook (The Tech Ladies group there is over 43,000 strong and growing.), for both staying on top of the industry and growing your network. You can start by following the conversations and then start to join in and even lead them yourself as you get to know the people and communities you find.
Ways To Network
Now that you know the why and where, let’s talk about the how of networking. We often hear that it's hard to network because you’re introverted, because networking activities aren't a natural part of your routine, or because it just takes time.
But you can follow these tips to make connecting easier and more effective. (And you can take a look at Tech Ladies Pro Membership for a simple solution that helps you make this all routine because we do some of the heavy lifting for you!)
Set Clear Goals
Start by defining what you want from your networking right now. Are you looking for connections for a new job, long-term mentorship, support from people who have similar roles? Having clear objectives at the beginning can help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your networking.
Make A Schedule
It might feel strange to pencil in networking activities on your calendar. But this will help you make time for networking while also being realistic about the amount you can spend on it. The best time to build a network is before you need it so it’s an investment worth making regularly.
You can avoid feeling nervous when networking “face-to-face” by doing a little prep beforehand. Run through how you’ll introduce yourself and think of a couple questions you can ask and a couple things you can share related to your work or tech in general.
No matter how much you choose to network, focus on building meaningful connections, not just amassing as many contacts as possible. Think about which types of relationships align best with your networking goals and focus on those.
Networking is always a two-way street so giving back is key to creating a healthy network. And it’s also a great way to get to know even more people. You can share resources, make intros between people you know, volunteer to help organizers, or amplify the work and success of others.
Whatever the reasons, places, and ways you have for networking are, it’s sure to help pave the way for your career in the tech. And, in most cases, it's often just about making new friends, and who doesn’t need friends in their corner, virtually and IRL?