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The old adage of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” still rings true across multiple industry sectors – especially tech. Building and expanding your professional network can mean the difference in finding meaningful employment that matches your skillset and what you want in a company culture, and getting stuck in a position that doesn’t fit.

Here are five tips on building your professional network, which can benefit you professionally and help you create a supportive community of people to push you toward growth.

Start attending in-person networking events. Now that in-person events and conferences have begun to pop up again across southern California, it’s time to re-engage. Zoom and video chatting have been great substitutes throughout the pandemic, but nothing can truly replace face-to-face time. Get your hands on the calendar for professional organizations in your area and start testing the waters of in-person events. You can also browse Meetup for local groups with common interests, those in your specific field, ages, and available times to meet up (there’s even a happy hour group). Keep safety in mind and get out there.

Attend learning workshops or professional development opportunities. Workshops, webinars or other learning opportunities can connect you with people in fields like data analytics or project management while helping you expand your expertise. You can choose hour-long courses all the way up to larger events like the two-day annual TECHSPO event in San Diego held each June. Either way you’ll be learning alongside developers, marketers, technology providers, designers and others looking to advance in the world of tech.

Be active on professional social media. Like it or not, the keys to your professional network are located in the same place as a lot of our social networking these days – online. As you’re working to expand your network, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and welcoming, and make sure to up your activity level online by posting, comment or sharing relevant material.

Regularly check in with contacts, including those you may not know well. Part of building a solid relationship with someone is consistency; they need to know you are there and taking an interest in what’s happening in their lives. Checking in with people in your network can demonstrate perseverance and loyalty that almost every potential co-worker, employer, or friend wants out of a relationship – whether they know you professionally and personally.

Be authentic. The most important thing to keep in mind as you work to expand your professional network is to be yourself. Try to focus on quality over quantity. Remember, it’s not how many business cards you pass out that counts; it’s the quality of individual conversations you have that can help you grow professionally and land the right position for you.

– Griffin Aroz, Technical Recruiter\Account Manager