It might top your list of least favorite professional activities—but one thing is certain, networking works. If you’re looking for your first or next position in the IT industry, want to get your name out there as an expert in your field, or are simply looking to make some meaningful connections, networking is the most effective (not to mention efficient) means to these ends. In fact, a 2016 survey conducted by the Adler Group showed that up to 85 percent of jobs are filled via networking.
Here you’ll find our favorite advice from seasoned IT pros and other experts on how to ease yourself into networking and how to take it up a notch. And, CompTIA AITP is offering its members a free opportunity to take these tips for a test run at during our inaugural TechTurnout event series in Philly (September 25); San Diego (October 11); and Dallas (November 14). Not only will you have the opportunity to attend practical CEU sessions and emerging tech demos, you’ll also connect with hundreds of IT pros from your area.
Network early and often.
It’s never too soon to start networking—whether you’ve just begun your IT degree program or are simply considering a career change to tech. Even if you’ve already landed your first or fifth IT position without ever handing out a business card, making networking a habit starting right now can be worthwhile.
“I tell my students in their first class, their first semester, your job search starts today. They all look at me like I’m crazy,” says long-time instructor at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina, CompTIA AITP member Tom Brady. “But if you’re not starting today, you’re going to miss out on dozens of opportunities as you’re waiting to graduate. Classes are important—they will help you get you the skills you need, but it’s not the end. You need a job, so you need to start networking your first semester.”
Sign up and show up.
Want a super simple way to start meeting IT pros? Join a CompTIA AITP chapter. No chapter in your area? Look for tech meetups or start your own group and meet over coffee to discuss tech-related topics on regular basis.
CompTIA AITP Executive Council Chair Emeritus and Atlanta Chapter member Julian Wade, a retired dean at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, says his involvement in CompTIA AITP helped him build countless connections in the industry, which in turn benefited his students with IT internships and entry-level job opportunities.
“Joining a professional association and attending the meetings will provide you with opportunities to get involved, meet people, and build both professional and personal friendships,” says Wade. “At our meetings, we have professionals who come for their first time who may be brand new to IT or have five or 10 years of work experience. Either way, everyone is in the exact same situation."
Step up your game.
Maybe you’ve already mastered the basics—you belong to your local CompTIA AITP chapter and you’re a regular at meetings and events. So what’s next? You can make a bigger impact in your area by taking on a leadership role within the association. Getting involved means you not only meet the other players, you also help shape the discussion of what’s happening in the field. By being in the trenches, you can better see where the gaps are, how to help and with whom to work.
Connect with IT pros IRL.
Flex your networking muscles in a friendly, no-pressure environment at a CompTIA AITP TechTurnout event in Philadelphia, San Diego or Dallas. These half-day events will feature the latest in tech trends and insights, CEU sessions on topics like network infrastructure and ransomware, and demos on emerging technologies like virtual reality. You’ll also be able to connect with area tech pros and hand out a few of those business cards that have been collecting dust.
Best of all: If you’re a CompTIA AITP member, registration is absolutely free. Not a member? Register for $99 and you’ll get a year of membership included.
Don’t wait: Register for a TechTurnout event near you.