Expanding your personal network

This post is Day #10 in a series called Personal Branding for Software Developers.

In my last article I talked about speaking at conferences as a way to do social networking without the aid of digital tools. In this one I want to expand on that and touch on the subject of personal networking.

Before social media all networking was done face to face. The advent of the Chamber of Commerce was to help business owners meet other business owners so they could network to develop connections. These people could form friendships through their mutual associations. These personal networks could then be drawn upon when people needed help in various areas.

Business owners still do face-to-face networking although not as much these days. While some groups still put on breakfast meetings or lunches, a lot of people have put their efforts into online communities.

For software developers I still think there is a benefit to having a personal network that you can meet in person. These people can eventually become online friends but the people you meet in person are generally more likely to go the extra mile for you online if they have known you in person first.

One way to meet other developers and to create your in-person network is to attend user group meetings. If you live in a large enough city or close to one you can generally find a user group that deals with your software language or interest. Meetup.com is an excellent resource to find user groups in your area. You can also ramp up your networking by volunteering with a group. As a last resort if you cannot find a group then you can always start one. Taking the lead shows initiative on your resume and it is a guaranteed way to meet all kinds of people since you are the face of the group.

Another way to network in person is to attend IT-related functions in your city. Some business or technology groups will sometimes have technology forums so that local businesses can showcase what they are working on. There might also be conferences going in in your immediate area. If you also have a college or university nearby that offers degrees in IT they are also an excellent resource as they sometimes offer free lectures and functions.

A final way to network with others is to attain an MVP credential from various software companies like Microsoft or Telerik. These companies’ recognize active users in their communities. These could be people who give lectures or who help solve problems on their forums. By being active in this way you are developing a following as someone who knows about the product and who is willing to help. Additional personal networking also occurs as these companies have yearly conferences where all the MVPs attend in person so they can meet and learn about new technologies.

In conclusion you can see that personal networking also plays a part in developing your personal brand. By meeting people in person and then continuing the conversation online you are developing a stable personal network that can be used for years to come.

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About Ken Cenerelli
I am a Programmer Writer, .NET Developer, Microsoft MVP - Visual Studio and Development Technologies, Public Speaker, Blogger, and Microsoft Azure Nerd. I blog regularly at kencenerelli.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter via @KenCenerelli.

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