Communication, Networking, and LinkedIn in Your Tech Career: Production Capital vs Relationship Capital
By Ben Meyer
In the staffing and technology industry, communication and networking are vital to your career. Whether it’s making in-person connections or connecting on platforms such as LinkedIn, establishing relationships will prove to be very beneficial. In this article, let’s begin by discussing two factors to networking that are crucial: 1) Production capital and 2) Relationship capital. Production capital is all of the things that you have done in your career, the items you put on your resume and your work output; whereas, relationship capital is all about the interpersonal dynamics between people, the areas of common interest and bonding. Many of us, in our networking, stop at the production capital and the value is truly within the relationship capital. Let’s begin by discussing communication within our technology career networking efforts and how it benefits you in your technology career.
Communicating with your network
First of all, when was the last time you met someone at a networking event and spent 5 minutes talking to them, got their business card and felt like you were now in? We all seem to stop at the production capital noted above, but did you find areas of common interest or bond on some topic from technology to the upcoming Olympic Games or even bowling? During your initial connection with someone, transitioning to relationship capital is key because it ensures that your communication will be received and reacted to for your benefit. Follow up immediately with an email, LinkedIn note, phone call (yes, phone call) or even a handwritten note card and begin by focusing in on relationship capital that you have begun building. If you meet someone at an event or in a group, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. This way, you can keep in touch with them electronically. If you join a group or connect with an individual on this platform, interact with their posts and comments or post within those groups yourself. Keep people updated on meetups or events relevant to the group. By doing this, you are repeatedly getting your name out there and continuing networking and communicating with your connections. Additionally, all of your communication needs to be authentic and genuine. People have a way of telling when there is no sincerity. Be sure to build upon the relationship capital that you have developed because you don’t want to be one dimensional. We start with communication because it is applicable to all areas of networking!
Networking and establishing relationships are the most important things in your career. Your network is what sustains and grows your technology career. The right type of network grows your knowledge and pushes you to positions and limits that you cannot reach on your own. The networking communities that you build lasts with you throughout your entire technology career and allows you to create lasting relationships, grow your skillset, and navigate different businesses and organizations. Establishing relationships within these communities only offers great benefits for your technology career.
The networking communities I am referring to include pre-established groups within the IT industry. I highly recommend joining groups such as this to expand your network. For example, the Project Management Institute is a great group for project managers to join where people come together and share knowledge, insights, and open job positions. This is a great way to expand your network in your tech career. Don’t forget about moving from production capital to relationship capital. You can have all of the production capital that you want listed in your resume, but if you don’t have that relationship capital gained through communication and networking, you won’t hit the ceiling of your career.
To begin building your network, I recommend you start in specific communities that relate to your technology career. Become a member of a group, volunteer, and be active within these communities to create a name for yourself and meet people with similar skillsets and career paths. Creating relationships is a two-way street; therefore, you need to contribute to your network as much as your network is contributing to you and your technology career. Networking is not only done with peers and senior leaders, it is also with subordinates. Think up, down and lateral when networking…just as in life.
When it comes to networking on LinkedIn, I highly recommend being more selective about who you allow in your network. Many people accept anyone into their LinkedIn community, but it’s important to remain professional in that aspect. Creating connections on LinkedIn is not just about clicking a button, it’s about creating a relationship just as much as an in-person networking event. Joining online groups is also very important when networking. Like the in-person groups I mentioned before, online groups can be just as beneficial. You want to connect with people that have a similar career path as you. The integrity of your network is very big on LinkedIn.
If someone is reaching out to you to connect on LinkedIn, there should be a basis for the connection. For instance, if you connect with someone, you should send a personalized message along with it stating the purpose of connecting, why you would like to connect with them, how it helps expand your network, and how you can help expand their network. The same goes for when someone requests to connect with you. Establish your reasoning for connecting and build a relationship from there.
Focus on the quality of your network rather than the quantity. Drive the relationship capital forward to reach your career possibilities. In addition, focus on your reputation within that network. How will you give back to the network you want to be in? LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool and should be utilized appropriately and with the intention of building your career through connections.
When it comes to your technology career, networking is very important. Building your network and establishing professional connections helps you in your technology career in more ways than one. It allows you to grow your technical insights, find mentors in the community, find jobs, help others find jobs, and ultimately grow your career within the technology industry.
INT Technologies is the nation’s largest certified Veteran-Owned Staffing and Consulting Company. We have 20 years proven track record assisting our varied clients with their projects and staffing needs within the financial, insurance, healthcare, government, aerospace, and technology industries. Serving clients nationwide, our leadership team -comprised of Chris Knott, Rhonda Rutledge, James Moloney, Tamara Ellestad, and Richard Krause -focuses on integrity and service and the relationships they help build. Proof of our commitment to “our client is our highest priority” can be seen in the fact that each of INT’s founding clients remain INT clients 20 years later. www.inttechnologies.com