Following up on my post on Monday, Getting Started on LinkedIn, I wanted to talk about getting started in your IT community. When I moved to the Hampton Roads area, one thing I learned very quickly was that the IT community is a close-knit one. At dinners and events, everyone seemed to know everyone. However, there was always someone willing to lend a helping hand, offer some technical advice, or provide a referral or a reference. I found the Hampton Roads IT community welcoming but I had to make the effort to become a part it! In a day and age, where who you know and networking are the strongest ways to grow your professional career, it is a great idea to be involved in your local IT community.
How do you get started?
Get out there! There are so many events to attend and meetings to be a part of that can expand your knowledge of IT in the area and your professional relationships. Join a local IT Chapter or a User Group. You can search LinkedIn for groups or search Google for user groups and professional groups in your area. These groups typically have monthly meetings to share information and stay sharp on current technologies and processes. Many areas also have larger technology groups (such as RichTech in Richmond and NCTA in North Carolina).
There are so many different events to attend. Last year, UDig attended a Tech Night where dozens of local IT companies got together to recognize how IT makes a difference in the local community. In August, we were also able to attend the MADExpo which is held annually in Hampton. Developers form across the country came out to be a part of seminars and classes to expand their knowledge and overall understanding.
IT is a growing and ever-changing industry. The best thing you can do to expand your network and stay current is to get out there and get involved!