I only recently transitioned into Software Engineering a few months ago, but I’ve already seen the copious benefits that my sales background has provided me in this new programming world. Saying I did “sales” can be general, so to be a tad more specific, I was in sales and marketing for the hotel industry in the Washington, D.C. area, just to give my post a little bit more context.
Having great networking skills and habits are a must-have in sales. Those with great habits attended networking events on a weekly basis. We carried business cards in every pocket and bag. Our LinkedIn profiles were set up, and we were active on it, connecting with our hotel counterparts but also existing and prospective clients. There were snazzy email signatures, and readily available sales collateral we could distribute in person or electronically. We attended trainings and seminars to freshen up our skills to ensure we had great verbal and written communication for prospecting, negotiating, and addressing obstacles. A lot of resources and time were put into being able to capture business in a unique, competitive, and efficient manner.
Fascinating Statistics About Networking!
85% of positions are filled through networking.
95% of professionals consider face to face communication vital for long term business.
70% of people found a job through connections in a company.
The close rate for face to face meetings is 40%.
39% socialize more online than in person.
True story — 100% of my opportunities came from some type of networking activity— whether referrals from previous colleagues, connection through friends, LinkedIn, social media activity, networking event or previous clients.
With graduation only a month and a half away, I wanted to share some best practices and tips on networking and building your online presence, that I’ve seen beneficial, as we near the job search and interview process. Especially with us Bootcamp students diving into a completely different industry, the ability to network, connect and showcase your soft skills, along with your technical skills, can significantly increase your odds of landing your next opportunity and gain valuable connections.
An individual’s online presence is very much a personal choice. As much as I am writing tips about increasing your online presence, I do value privacy and limit my presence on some platforms. However, I do see the benefits of ensuring we do leverage these social media platforms in some capacity.
As far as a software engineer goes, I personally think it’s equally important to have a LinkedIn profile, as you would have your personal online portfolio showcasing your projects.
Similarly, your GitHub repositories can show your activity and projects, Twitter can connect you with other developers and CodeWars gives you a place to advance your skills and connect with others on solutions. Some hiring managers and companies even use CodeWars to assess software engineering candidates with coding assignments and live coding sessions.
There’s also Stack Overflow, an online community where developers ask for help, feedback, learn and share their programming knowledge. Then there’s Medium and Dev to blog about your experiences and share best practices.
The online world is endless and these aren’t the only resources. It can be overwhelming, especially if you prefer to keep a low profile. However, it is important to have an online presence for the professional world. It’s a sure-fire way to check if a candidate is real, see their work and their activity.
I will be focusing more on LinkedIn.
- Complete your profile up to a score of 100% or “All-Star” level.
Those with an “All-Star” status are 40 times more likely to get contacted through LinkedIn. You can’t reap the benefits of LinkedIn if you only complete 50% of your profile. Some people think simply having a profile set up is enough to get them recognized. A full profile shows you care enough, by putting the work in to truly showcasing all you’ve got to offer.
Add a headline that captures the reader’s attention
- The headline is what appears right below your name. The headline is also one of four items (name, headline, location, and headshot) that are viewable when someone uses the search feature in LinkedIn.
- The headline is limited to 120 characters, so treat it like your elevator pitch to grab someone’s attention. Instead of just listing your job title, along with company/school, show your value.
- But what if I’m currently unemployed, transitioning industries, or a student with minimal job-related experience?? This is where the summary section really comes in handy. Skip below to that section!
Keyword-Search-Optimize your profile
- I myself have searched for job opportunities using keywords with “Ruby, and Rails” for example so that I can narrow down the results of jobs that use this specific programming language and framework. It works the same way with a recruiter searching for candidates.
Use the Skills section
- This is also the same as above in making your profile SEO friendly. You can list up to 50 skills, however, this isn’t required. To achieve an “All-Star” status, you need to have at least five(5) skills listed.
- Don’t just put your technical skills on display, your soft skills are equally necessary! Be sure to highlight any soft skills you have, as recruiters often prioritize candidates with such transferable skills, such as leadership, communication, presentation skills, customer service, etc.
The Summary section is your place to shine!
- In the summary section, you are given up to 2000 characters to really showcase what you’re all about. It’s your chance to write freely.
- Think about the summary as an extended version of your elevator pitch.
- What are your strengths, skills, and passions?
What successes have you had in the past?
What are your goals for the future?
What do you love about the industry?
What projects are you working on?
What motivates you?
- Don’t let lack of job experience hold you back. You have many ways you can still shine by talking about your passions, goals, and motivations!
- In order to be at All-Star status, you must have at least 50 or more connections. There are so many ways to connect with others.
- Connect with classmates and your instructors! Since you’re all in the same industry, it will only benefit you to keep in touch after you graduate. This could lead to job opportunities and referrals as they know your skillsets.
- Don’t be afraid to request people! Say you are interested in someday working for Amazon. You do a search by company name and scroll over to the people section. Then you find that you have 2nd-level connections that work there as a recruiter or Software Engineer. It won’t hurt to connect!
- *Extra bonus points* If you do request to connect, add a more personalized touch to your request by adding a personal note that reflects why you are reaching out, what you know about the company, or directly about specific positions.
Ask for and Provide Recommendations
- Another great way to boost your LinkedIn profile is by the recommendations you have. It is proof that you truly are a great candidate, have the experience or soft skills you’ve listed, pleasant to work with, and giving you more credibility.
- Recommendations can actually boost your rankings in the LinkedIn people search, increasing your rankings!
- Don’t just take…give recommendations too. If you have worked with or know someone who’s positively impacted your work or learning experience, give them praise. It can go both ways, and that person may be more open to giving you an unsolicited recommendation in the future.
Add Additional Profile Features
- If you have a portfolio or Medium blog, it would be key to add this as an extra feature on your profile.
- You can also add Links, Articles, Posts you have on LinkedIn and Media.
- Basically, anything you’d like to share that showcases what you want recruiters or future employers to know about you. Just keep it professional!
👉🏻 Check out this LinkedIn article on 12 Simple Steps to Reach All-Star LinkedIn Profile Status.
This goes with any other social media platform you’re on, along with LinkedIn. Don’t just set up your profile, and then let it just sit there.
Be somewhat active!
- Follow companies that interest you or you’d love to work for. This will allow you to get updates on their company, potential job opportunities, expand your learning and provide you great talking points
- Post regularly to keep those who follow you connected and engaged.
- Share articles you find interesting, especially if the topic is within the industry you are in or are pursuing.
- Like or comment on posts of those you’ve decided to follow. I’m not saying go through their entire timeline, but maintaining some sort of engagement can lead that person to think, “Hey, they find what I post interesting!” and you never know where that may lead.
- If you write blog posts or articles, share them on your other accounts, as you deem fit. Sometimes, when I share my medium blog on LinkedIn and I end up getting more exposure there since most of my connections are more active on LinkedIn. It has led me to a few conversations and rekindled engagement from my recruiter and tech connections!
I know these aren’t exactly the times where networking events in person are deemed safe. However, I cannot write about networking without mentioning how beneficial in-person events and connections are. Your personality shines through and you’re able to communicate more effectively.
So, when it’s safe again, make a point to find a local meet-up, attend an industry event or join a special interest association.
I used to attend networking events almost weekly, both for small events or large conferences. It was a great way of meeting new people in industries that always interested me. One of the best things out of it was leveraging educational opportunities! It can also be good to simply just people watch and see how others interact and network, just in case you’re not too comfortable approaching someone new.
Keep in touch and stay connected with old contacts
You never know if someone you previously worked with, now works for a company that’s hiring for exactly what you’re looking for.
I also connect with recruiters I’ve previously had great interviews with since they’ve already had a chance to speak with me and got to know me a little bit. There have been times that even though I’m the job-seeker, it’s the recruiter following up with me months later to say “Hey, we have this position, I remembered our chat and thought your skillset would be great!”
Before I even started my software engineering Bootcamp, I already established relationships with four recruiters that hire specifically for tech positions and companies. One of those recruiters, Erika, happened to be one of the managers on my Sales Team five years ago! We touch base every few months just to reconnect. I gave her a quick summary of what programming languages I was learning, and already anticipate her following up with me when I graduate these next few weeks.
Leverage online meet-ups & events
There are many online meet-ups and industry events out there!
“Well where do I even start and how do I find out about them?” you ask.
Great question! A good place to start is by following particular companies, organizations, groups, or topics on your social media platform of choice. Assuming they have an account there.
I say “choice” because if the organization has a presence on all social platforms, then choose to follow them on the platform you’re most active on. You are more likely to catch important news, events, or posts!
It wouldn’t be beneficial if you followed them on LinkedIn, but only log on 2x a month, but you don’t follow them on Twitter and you are on Twitter several times a day.
Another way is to sign up for their email newsletter, so you get an email instead of fielding through your social feeds. That way, you know you are receiving the updates you specifically are looking for.
You can also set up alerts to be notified, on Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. For example, I follow around 400+ people/accounts on Instagram, but only care to be alerted about 10 or so accounts. This prevents me from endless scrolling if I only want to see alerts I’m most interested in.
Other Networking Resources
If you don’t like LinkedIn or don’t find it useful for your industry or line of work, that’s understandable. Some industries are more prominent on LinkedIn while others have alternative ways. Here’s a great article on
13 Awesome Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn.
There is so much more I feel I could add to this post, I literally almost didn’t stop typing. But then this would be forever long and an eye-sore! These are the top tips and skills from my sales days that have been beneficial for me so far, or I know can be crucial in navigating this new world. I hope you found this helpful and best of luck with your networking efforts!�