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How to Diversify your Professional Network // Life in Tech

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Hi! Welcome back to my channel I have been attending a lot of professional events lately so networking is on my mind

I am a big believer of the phrase "your network is your net worth" All the important turning points in my career can be linked back to my network For example, when I was working at Symantec as a technical writer who was working on user documentation, a senior colleague told me about the developer documentation position at Druva She had come across the position herself but didn't think she would enjoy it so she told me about it because she thought that I would enjoy the role I had no plans to change jobs at that point

But she asked me to apply for the job just to check it out and just to see where I stand in the market That was the first time I was introduced to the concept of developer documentation And interviewing for the job at Druva and accepting that job changed my whole life The next turning point in my career was when I came to the US

to pursue a Master's degree in technical communication and that is also thanks to somebody in my network I was having lunch with a friend on a random Sunday when she mentioned that she was going to the US to pursue a master's degree and asked me to check out if there were any technical communication programs Until that point I had never thought that master's in technical communication was a thing

But once she mentioned it, I googled it on a whim and then found that there are so many programs That's when I started my research, narrowed down on Missouri S&T and here I am Another turning point in my career was when I landed the internship at Druva's California office and that was thanks to my CTO in India who believed in me and saw the potential in me and then asked the people in the California office to offer me an internship So every major turning point in my career has been thanks to the people in my network And I see this being true even in my current workplace

You might be aware that most of the jobs available in the industry are never publicly posted The hiring manager or the HR person first tries to recruit through their own network and if they cannot find anybody suitable in their network, only then they post the jobs to job sites So if you are in the market for a new job, the first thing you need to do is tap into your network The value of a network comes from the people that you are connected to One of the common traps that we fall into when it comes to networking is that we tend to network with people who are just like us

For example, men network with men, women network with women, engineers network with engineers, and tech writers network with tech writers So even though there is value with networking with your peers because they likely face the same problems that you are facing so they might have a solution to your problems But that can be limiting because everybody in a homogeneous network has the same perspective It is incredibly valuable to have a diverse network And by diverse network I am talking about connecting with people who are different than you in terms of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and job functions

If you think back to the examples that I shared in the beginning, my first turning point was when a senior colleague at Symantec referred me a job She's older than me so she had a better perspective of how my career could progress and then she steered me towards that direction The second example was when I came here for my master's program That suggestion came from a friend who is not a tech writer And the third instance was when the CTO of her company referred me to the internship in California

Again, not a tech writer So I think we all can agree that a diverse professional network is valuable Then the next question is – how do you cultivate a diverse network? And I have three ways in which I consciously cultivate my diverse network The first is start where you are Start with your warm network

Warm network refers to the people that you are already connected to Show up for events that people in your network organize For example, last week I attended the fireside chat at Cockroach Labs in which our design team shared their creative process It was incredibly insightful I gained so much knowledge about how the design team works

And I also took it as an opportunity to show up and show that I value them and I respect their work and I want to learn more about it The second way in which I cultivate my diverse network is that I think about my different identities and then I reach out to people of those multiple identities Let me explain So my multiple identities are that I am a tech writer, I am a woman in tech, I'm a person of color in tech, I am a non-US citizen in tech, and as part of my job I write code, I experiment with technologies So these are the different things that I identify with which means I have access to the communities who also have these identities

So I reach out to different communities like Elpha which is a women in tech community Devto which is a developer focused tech community Last week, I gave a presentation at devto's New York meetup and again it was incredible to connect with people who seemingly have different job functions than me but we found out that we actually have a lot in common

I gave a presentation about my tech writing process which was very well-received by the developer community and I came back from the event feeling refreshed and having made some new friends And the third way I cultivate my diverse network is also a word of caution – so when you're cultivating your diverse network it is very important to be respectful and ask for permission before invading somebody space For example, I have seen men want to be a part of the women and tech events because they want to be allies And although that's a good intention, if the event does not specify that allies are welcome, you should probably check before just showing up Because as women in tech we want our own safe space and a comfortable setting where we can have conversations that we can't have outside that space

So wanting to be an ally is a very good intention but we also need to be respectful and make sure that the people who are organizing the events are open to having allies at that event If not, respectfully give them their space and don't show up For example, this week at our company, we had a Pride celebration organized by the LGBTQ+ community And the organizer specifically mentioned that allies are most welcome Which is why we showed up and had a great time

So that's how I cultivate a diverse professional network: Start with your existing network and show up for the people you are already connected to Figure out the multiple identities you have and then reach out to the people who also identify with them And be respectful while being an ally I hope this video was helpful I'll see you next time

Until then, happy writing!

Source: Youtube

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