Developer Networking: A Post About My Experiences
Networking is essential for your development career path, especially when you are looking for your first job. But wow is it hard. Especially in the midst of a pandemic, where everything is virtual.
Today I'd like to share my experiences with attempting to expand my network, for lack of a better topic.
I have attended a couple of virtual conferences this month. I attended the TypeScript conference as a learning opportunity (and to try networking). I also attended a developer marketing/relations conference - here I thought there would be significant potential for making new connections.
Unfortunately, neither conference panned out on the networking side. The TypeScript conference was great for learning, and I won some cool swag from the DevRel conference. But I walked away from neither with any new relationships.
I think a big part of this was due to the nature of the platforms used for the conference. While the conferences used different platforms, the functionality was similar. The video streams were the primary focus, with a sidebar area for chat. The chat, in general, was not very active. There was also a "Networking" feature, which would randomly drop you in a 1-on-1 video chat with another attendee. I admit that this seemed far too intimidating and I neglected to try it (I imagine it's much easier to talk to people at an in-person conference).
Hacktoberfest has been absolutely phenomenal for expanding my network. Between finding new projects to contribute to (and thus new developers to work with) and the community platforms, I've forged quite a few meaningful connections. While said connections might not necessarily help me directly land a job, having people that I can work with and that can vouch for my skillset is always a bonus.
In my opinion, because Hacktoberfest is specifically about bringing developers together to work on each others' projects (as opposed to the above conferences, where the purpose was learning) significantly helps facilitating the networking process. I definitely look forward to finding similar events.
I have joined a few different programming-related Discord servers, including the Hacktoberfest server and the freeCodeCamp server. While I am not active in all of them, they've all helped me meet other developers and start building the lines of communication. Whether it's from asking a question about an obstacle I face, or helping someone else work through their bug - each interaction seems to lead to another connection and an opportunity to demonstrate my skills and learn.
What are your tips for networking? Share them in the comments below - I'm always looking for new opportunities to connect with developers!