Many people in the IT industry don’t know how to network very well. But it’s imperative if you want to move up in your career. Here are six tips for networking the right way.


Once you get to a certain level in your career, you can attribute most new jobs to your network and not your resume. It is always preferable for a hiring manager to reach out to people they trust for recommendations on hires.

But many people in our industry don’t know how to network. Focusing on technical skills can only go so far. The following is a list of networking ideas that have worked for many successful people in IT and in business.

1. Know your recruiter. Even if he did not land you your current gig, talk to them about your needs when you get to your new company. Even if you don’t have hires to make, taking the time to talk to them is a great way to keep that relationship alive in the future. If you make a hire, even better.
2. Get involved. Find a community technology initiative or advisory council and start volunteering. Even if you are currently unemployed, volunteering to do work (and of course, performing the work well) will demonstrate your value to peers. You help them and they’ll go out of their way to help you. The opposite is also true. If you got where you are because of someone else, return the favor.
3. Look at something new. If you’re used to Microsoft User Groups or other technical user groups, try something different. Not too long ago I attended a Social Media Group event, something that I had not been involved in or even interested in at the time. But I learned a lot of new stuff about Web 2.0 and in a way that was more valuable than reading it in a book. Everything I learned there was laced with real-world experience and therefore, more valid from an educational perspective. You will also meet people there that may be good resources if you’re ever looking for a job.
4. Learn how to work a room. Go to events and mingle. Show a genuine interest in learning about other people, what they do and who they are. The rest will come.
5. Reward your network. If someone in your network helped you land a gig, take her and her spouse out to a nice dinner and thank them profusely. When she, in turn, calls for help, don’t turn her away. When she asks for advice, give it. These relationships always pay off, and not just career-wise or financially.
6. Leverage people you know and have relationships with to make introductions. By meeting for lunch with a friend and his friends to discuss interesting ideas or technologies gives you the opportunity to learn about someone new that your friend respects and trusts. Be aware that these people trust your friend, so don’t do anything to jeopardize that trust.

Bottom line in networking: Find every opportunity to learn about new people, find ways to demonstrate your value and always pay it forward.