Outreach & Networking I

Slides for this session

Learning Goals

  • Understand how to refine your job search strategy to include research and networking
  • Utilize design thinking practices of ideating and prototyping to refine your outreach
  • Utilize tools and strategies for successful outreach
  • Create and execute a plan for your own outreach and networking this week

This Week’s Career Journal Prompts

  • Review habit tracker
  • Create mind maps to assess your engagement, energy, and flow
  • Protoype mind maps: what does these maps tell you about what’s important to you as a software developer?
  • Create and execute a plan for outreach

Review

Week 3’s session dove into resources and ideas for how to build your job search strategy. And this probably led to more questions about how to structure your time.

Consider this: what should your job search practice look like day-to-day? If your first answer is something along the lines of “it should look like scrolling through the internet and sifting through job postings to see what you can get and then submitting your resume”…that is false. If that is the plan you follow, you will have a longer job search, guaranteed. Why? Because when you do this, you’re not prioritizing what’s important to you. You’re not following your vision. And beyond that, you’re forgetting about other crucial steps in the process:

JSS_highlight Steps 2 and 3

You need to first research a company so that you know it fits what you’re looking for AND reach out to someone at the company, which is another way to do research as well as build relationships at the company. But first let’s talk about where to start.

Applying Design Thinking: Mind Maps

Let’s start by thinking about how your vision fits into the research you need to do on a company. Come back to design thinking, specifically the principle of Ideate. Instead of thinking, “I have to find the one right idea, reframe it to “I need to look at multiple ideas for how I could execute my vision.”

Remember we’re trying to solve the problem of how to become a software developer. The first idea that probably comes to mind is “get a job in this field,” but that’s not the complete solution. The complete solution is putting your vision into place, and there are lots of ways to execute that. You have to think beyond the first idea – you have to think beyond scrolling through job postings.

This brings us to another way to reframe our initial thoughts. We might start with “here’s what I want,” but let’s take it a step further to “here’s what I might want” to embrace additional ideas.

The process to help us get there is to generate many and new ideas for how to apply your vision by utilizing outreach and networking to uncover more answers. As you engage in this process today, beware of judgment that comes up when you’re thinking – this is the enemy of creativity. Impostor Syndrome is judgment. Fixed mindset is judgment. Free yourself from that.

This week in your career journal you’ll create mind maps to describe the engagement, energy, and flow that you want to incorporate into your future job. Then, apply prototyping by asking yourself – what does this information tell me about what’s important to me in my career as a software developer? What do I still need to learn about this career?

Find Out More: Outreach & Networking

Now that you have some ideas to work with on what you enjoy about this field and want to seek out, it’s important to figure out how you can get your additional questions answered. The best way to do this is through building relationships with others in this industry, which is also known as networking. The core of networking is about becoming part of a community. In this case, it’s about becoming part of the tech community. Sometimes people shy away from networking because the impression it can give off is one of being transactional. You can reframe it in this way: networking is merely asking for directions. It’s how you research and find answers to your questions, both for your career in general and about companies you’re interested in. This adds to your sense of direction for your career path.

Outreach is the process for how relationship-building happens, and this week, we’ll talk about that first reason for outreach – research to answer questions for your job search.

When it comes to outreach, you should consider:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • Who is best to answer these questions?

To answer these questions, consider both warm and cold contacts you have. Warm contacts are the people you already know. To think about who is in your network already and how you could strengthen those relationships, read Finding the Hidden Value in Your Network. This article describe the people in your network already:

  • Dormant Ties: people you know but haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Weak Ties: people you don’t know well. These are acquaintances and friends of friends.
  • Turing Community:

For cold outreach, this refers to people who you don’t know…yet. Start by connecting with people who work at companies you are interested in. How do you find them? Use LinkedIn or the company website.

What Do You Say?

In your message to the person, what should you include?

  • Intro to who you are; even if they’re a warm contact, give them an update on what you’ve been doing now that you’re at Turing.
  • Purpose: why are you reaching out? Make specific connections to the person.
  • Call to action: what next steps are there? Suggest times for a call.

What should NOT be included here? Note: this list comes from alumni who have given feedback on why they wouldn’t want to meet with someone.

  • Asking for a reference or job
  • Unclear purpose
  • Generic message/unclear specifics about them as a person. This includes using a template.

Throughout this process, continue to ask yourself:

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Why is this the right person (for my purpose)?
    • How do I demonstrate this knowledge? (Bring in research)
  • Am I being clear on what my ask is?
  • What can I bring to this conversation?
  • What’s my call to action?

How do you contact them? You can always start with LinkedIn. However, there are a lot of resources listed here on how to find someone’s email address.

Consider Other Way to Expand Your Circle

To expand your circle wider, consider attending networking events, utilizing social media, or joining identity-specific networking groups.

For networking events, start by checking out meetup.com and make events work for you by researching the organizers and anyone on the RSVP list ahead of time. Prepare for small talk and think about asking questions that can lead to continued conversation, such as “what are you working on right now?” rather than “what do you do?” Discuss the topic of the event – what was interesting about the talk? You could also discuss your current projects, the local tech scene, and use this as an opportunity to tell your story. Afterwards, make sure to follow up with them by connecting on LinkedIn.

With social media, focus on using Twitter and LinkedIn. With Twitter, you can follow people in the tech industry and engage with them through retweets and messages. Connect with them on LinkedIn as well. The key here though is sustained communication and engagement. This isn’t about one-off comments. Instead, take the time to engage in different conversations in a meaningful way.

You can also consider posting blog posts about things you’re learning and interested in to engage with the industry online.

Another great way to connect with others in the industry is through open source contributions. You can show off your skills while meeting people. If you’re interested in this, check out this guide for navigating open source and how to build community through it.

Next Steps: Put It Into Practice

Your next career journal prompt this week asks you to consider who you could reach out to based on your mind maps and then execute your plan. Consider how this outreach will further your job search strategy.