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IT networking skills that all techies must learn

Networking is the bane of many professionals’ existence. Yet knowing how to build relationships and connect with others in your industry may be less painful than you imagine.

To help you out, our experts from MentorCruise have come up with ways to improve your IT networking skills, as well as ideas for connecting with other techies. Get rid of your dread of networking for good using our tips below.

What are IT networking skills?

IT networking skills are those used to build relationships and rapport with others in the IT industry. This includes a wide range of soft skills such as listening, as well as more practical abilities such as coding in public.

Nowadays, IT networking skills are also virtually-accessible. In addition to in-person meet-ups, networking can be done via email, blog, social media, forums, online groups and live events such as webinars.

What are examples of IT networking skills?

IT networking involves a variety of skills, including tech-specific and general soft skills. Together, these abilities empower techies to build a strong sense of community and clearly communicate their current projects and problems. Here are some key examples of IT networking skills.

Tech-specific skills

  • Build developer community
  • Code projects in public
  • Lead open-source efforts
  • Stay active on developer forums

General soft skills

  • Clear communication skills
  • Active listening
  • Public speaking skills
  • Relevant questions
  • Non-verbal cues
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Empathy
  • Positivity
  • Genuine interest
  • Handling feedback/rejection
  • Email etiquette

What IT networking skills should you list on your resume?

If you’re hunting for a job, you should also consider adding IT networking skills to your resume and cover letter. Here you’ll want to focus on those skills you truly excel at.

Ideally, you can go beyond basic knowledge by demonstrating some specific results. For example, if you organized an open-source project recently, you’ll want to mention it during your job search. Discuss how you made use of your genuine interest and interpersonal skills to coordinate these efforts.

Tips for improving IT networking skills

Nobody’s born with IT networking skills – they have to be learned. If you’re interested in boosting your networking skills and building real relationships with people in your industry, here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Get in the mindset

Networking can be painful without the right mindset. Try to stay open and find common ground with your fellow techies. Think of networking as a way to explore what others in your industry are up to.

2. Build communication habits

Active listening, non-verbal cues, empathy, positivity… communication is a complex skill that involves paying attention to the speaker and responding with insightful questions.

To improve communication skills, isolate these skills and practice them one-by-one. For example, spend a day being an active listener. Or work on your public speaking skills through a company brown-bag lunch session.

3. Start at the company level

Networking doesn’t have to begin at large industry events. Start by getting to know your co-workers. This could be as simple as lunching with a deskmate, walking to the bus station after work or asking relevant questions about his/her latest project.

4. Lean on positive language

Positive language is the heart of any good relationship. In particular, use positive language in emails or forums to strike up a genuine connection. Transactional-like interactions can make others feel unvalued.

5. Focus on giving value

If you’re reaching out to somebody you don’t know well, be sure to value his/her time. Keep it short and sweet. Avoid selling yourself or asking for a favor. Instead, show genuine interest by sending a link to an interesting article or asking how a recent event went.

6. Make it a regular thing

Networking skills can get rusty if you don’t use them. Make it a regular thing so that it feels like a natural part of your work life. Set a monthly networking goal to keep up your skills and motivate yourself to connect.

7. Try synchronous virtual networking

Virtual networking is great for connecting with peers in other locations. But you don’t have to rely on just asynchronous messaging. Find synchronous online events such as webinars, virtual conferences or digital fairs.

8. Use media to position yourself as an expert and interact with others

Social media is a great channel to network. Use a blog, podcast or other social networks to showcase your expertise. Just make sure to get into the conversation with relevant topics and hashtags, otherwise your efforts will go unnoticed.

9. Don’t have expectations

IT networking skills will rarely give you life-changing opportunities in one go. Don’t expect them to. Instead slowly build relationships and your network. You’ll find that job opportunities, business opportunities or other exciting work initiatives will come your way.

Where can you network with other techies?

There are so many networking possibilities out there. To get started, you can make user accounts with well-known communities such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, GameDev.net, and so on.

However, be sure to specifically look up developer communities in your programming language, current software and location. For example, there are forums specific to JavaScript, Shopify and cities like Berlin. Find niche places to network that you’re interested in.

Some other IT networking ideas to build human connection include:

  • Industry or professional networking events
  • Social networks, especially LinkedIn
  • Online courses
  • Email
  • Virtual coworking
  • “Instagram Live” for companies
  • Webinar leaders
  • Virtual job fairs
  • Reddit
  • Slack groups
  • Discord groups
  • Paid communities
  • In-person networking events, such as meet-ups

Level up your IT networking skills

It’s time to dust off your IT networking skills and put them to good use. With these tips above, you can practice your skills and start building relationships with others in your industry. Who knows, you may even enjoy it!

If you’re looking for more advice on networking and other IT industry tips, MentorCruise is a one-stop shop for getting expert-backed articles and tech mentorship opportunities.

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