Networking matters

| 2 min read

After a small number of long running jobs, I've been looking for work (whether missions, part time or full time) a couple of times in the last few years.

While the industry is still good, I can't hide from the main thing that did allow me to get into most of those positions - or at least to be given a chance to show my skills - networking.

While I'm an extrovert, I never liked networking. I've trouble going into events where you have to somehow awkwardly (for me) present yourself to complete strangers in order to end up with a business card or a LinkedIn connection.

I'm just lucky that twice in my career I end up in positions where networking was part of the job.

Once out of necessity - I co-founded a failed startup, but we played the game according to (what we thought were) the rules - we joined an incubator, developed friendships with the other founders and useful relations with mentors - generally well established CEOs (at our little Belgium level at least).

Once out of pure side benefit. I worked as lead teacher at LeWagon Brussels on and off for a while after having started the chapter here. After some years, it means that my students' students are now senior developers or founders in hiring positions.

Both of those are now years ago - more like 5 or 10 than two. But when I looked for a job at the start of 2021, that network was a better provider of opportunities than any skill or experience I had.

I'm not saying that it's fair (it's not, mostly it's privilege). In a better world, hiring decisions would be done solely on skills (hard and soft) - that does not make it less true.

I'm not saying it's fun either (I generally dislike networking personally) - that does not make it less useful.

My point here is to simply not underestimate its effects on a career path - yours or someone else. The "most successful" people around are not always the smartest/hardest working. They are often the best connected.

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