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Amara Graham
Amara Graham

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The Power of Online Networking

I don't miss shaking hands. I think the first year of my career in DevRel I was sick after every single conference or meetup. In fact, I don't think I could get through single trip for business or leisure without getting sick during or immediately after.

Some of this probably had something to do with stress or being a contact lens wearer. I got Lasik in 2017 and stopped touching my eyes twice a day which I'm sure helped. Stress is probably unchanged.

I'm confident the majority of it had to do with planes, trains, automobiles, and shaking hands with literally hundreds of people. No conversation in my personal space started without a hand shake.

Those were the days... filled with Con-flu & PAX-pox.

While the face time with folks was incredibly valuable and occasionally I find myself missing the awkward interaction of eating a boxed lunch on a convention center floor or at a table full of people that I didn't realize all know each other until I sat down, some of the most powerful networking interactions I've had have actually been from online ones with people I've never met face to face.

Here are a few ways people connect with me (and vice versa!).

Twitter

You can tell the days I'm either too many coffees in, traveling, or coding with long compile or build times, because I tend to be very chatty on Twitter.

Most of my connections tend to be through DMs asking for job and career help. What are my thoughts for folks looking for their first role in DevRel? Could I mentor or coach them? Could I look at their resume?

Sometimes my DMs can get a bit chaotic and I'm certainly not tech support for anything at my current company or past, but you can always nudge me if I don't respond. That said, some messages are filtered roughly 3x (Twitter marks them as spam, suspicious, or you don't follow me) and I just miss them because I don't click through to the most filtered messages. Then I play that awkward game of "do I respond if it's been months or do I just ignore it?"

I also tweet at companies with cool tech I've found like @octopusdohq and a while ago I told Unity their docs were amazing. This isn't necessarily networking, but I'd like to think I made at least their social media manager's day!

I really enjoy hyping people up too. So when you share a win or a milestone, I always try to remind people (even total strangers) to take some time to celebrate.

Dev.to

I've met so many awesome people through this website - employees, fellow mods, and users. The biggest compliment you can give me is "I've read your blog".

In fact, it's been a great ice breaker when meeting (in person) the president of my university (of which I'm an active alum on our Computer Science Advisory Board). He did also mention he read my tweets and I think I panicked. It's a lot less... filtered(?) over there.

My blogs on Dev have also allowed me to network with folks for speaking opportunities. I did a Fireside chat with @cearacrawshaw and I had a panel at Future Dev Summit. I've never met any of these folks in person!

While both ultimately reached out on Twitter, they both mentioned they read my blog! So instead of approaching me about any topic or my choice of topic, they could see what I was interested in and my thoughts on the matter - "I've seen your blog on {x}, would you be interested in elaborating in this topic?"

LinkedIn

I'm not going to lie, my LinkedIn can be a dumpster fire from time to time. I get a mix of recruiters, sales, dental professionals looking to expand their network, financial advisors, and actual humans looking for guidance on a topic I'm actually knowledgable in.

I pride myself in setting side time to respond to every recruiter that reaches out, because recruiting is very hard and I don't envy them, but if you can't be bothered to have a picture or provide your full name (or the name of the company you work for/recruiter for), I'm likely not going to put much effort into the response.

One company emails me at least twice a year and I've responded every time to let them know my career path and goals have shifted with my nearly 10 years of experience. They have never responded, unless you count the next recruiter or hiring manager ~6 months later.

And while I know not every recruiter will acknowledge my response, some do.

I told a recruiter at Ionic that I was very familiar with the company, follow @maxlynch on Twitter since their Drifty Co. days, and while I wasn't looking for a new role I knew some people who were. I'm sure it made his day to A. get a response and B. get hints at potentially qualified and job-seeking candidates.

I'm not saying add every recruiter that contacts you on LinkedIn, that might wig out your current employer, but consider it an opportunity to expand your network. If I am in a position where I am looking for my next role, either immediately or in the near future, I'd like to think I've paid it forward. While these folks may not stay at their current companies, they may continue a career in recruiting and remember the interaction one day.

And depending on the interaction, I'd do the same for them.

How are you networking online?

I'm sure some people are really missing the physical connection of a handshake, but I continue to be excited to meet people through a screen, particularly through a platform that isn't simply focused on messaging like Slack or Discord. The expectations for engagement are low, but the opportunities are high!

Discussion (7)

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omrisama profile image
Omri Gabay

I'm always networking online, but I can't wait until we have more conferences in person again!

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Seriously awesome post, Amara.

The power of online networking can't be understated.

It was through online networking that I discovered DEV and ultimately got my job here at Forem. I used to work at DZone and through speaking to writers on the site, I discovered DEV! I quickly realized that I wanted to be a part of this awesome community and luckily, when a job opened up on the Community side, I applied.

Speaking of, as a Community Manager, I suppose I have online networking to thank for my livelihood. ๐Ÿ˜…

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missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham Author

I love stories like yours! Networking comes in all shapes and sizes and doesnโ€™t even necessarily require meeting in person. So so cool!

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente Reyes

Awesome post, Amara!

Networking is how I got a job as a QA at ScaleAI. The person that introduced me to a product person at ScaleAI was one of my co-admins at a Freelance facebook group we were running for more than 2 years(before he knew a person who needed a person for the job).

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Ceara C

I was great to connect!! Ohhh the power of the interwebs :) U rock Amara

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Gamerseo

Currently, you need to invest in internet marketing to be able to exist. Being on the internet is absolutely essential.

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missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham Author

Sounds like you are in the right business then!