A series based on the original 10 step pathway
Stop being such an introvert, already! I know it is hard, but in this industry, like many others, it is mostly about who you know. Building that community allows one to learn and share, to build courage, trust and keep connections open and warm for when they are needed.
Some of us thrive in this arena and its not necessarily about being an “introvert” or “extrovert”. Coming from a social introvert (me), I understand that proactive networking may not be the most exciting thing on some of our to-do lists. Personally, I connect quite well with people. I like to believe that I have great energy and a particular flare, which contributes to the ease of conversations. However, to be honest, networking events exhaust me; so a fan, I am not. But, in my opinion, true networking comes from being of value to others. If you are of value to others, they will remember you, connect you and promote you. They will promote you, even when you are not in the room - now, that’s the kind of networking I like. There is a saying, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” - Zig Ziglar.
You should “network” when you don’t need anything, so when you do, it is not uncomfortable. A simple hey, long time no speak; how are you?, a link to something they would like, etc. I don’t consider myself a connector, but once connected, I maintain it. This is a key point for me, as the Universe has blessed me with friends (strong connections) that are what I consider to be connectors - they are social butterflies, they tell others about me and me about others and facilitate connections. However, traditionally, I have strong and weak connections that have stayed in tact, but not because of my doing - because of theirs.
Every time someone would call, text or email, I’d say to myself, wow - I need to reach out more. I’m still not great at this, but I am improving. I try to set a small amount of time aside for reaching out, setting dates for re-connection, etc. - pick a few people and spend 10 minutes sending out pings. A small effort for a great reward of keeping a connection alive.
When someone you know lands a job or starts a company where they are building out a team, who do you think they call to help fill the roles?? <drum roll> their weak connections - the people they’ve worked with in the past, the smart people on their slack channel, their colleagues’ connections, etc. Weak ties bridge networks, so keep them alive.
Get out there, check out security related events on Meetup, follow some cool people on Twitter - here is a list, submit and present on a topic - you’ll meet a ton of people by providing value to others. Also, check out The Power of Weak Connections.
My thoughts and musings are always of my own and not necessarily shared by my employer. :)