A friendly reminder to the Twin Cities technology community: Don't stop networking.
Just last month, Paul DeBettignies, a leading Twin Cities technology recruiter who blogs as "Minnesota Headhunter," posted on the Minnesota High Tech Association LinkedIn page: "After many conversations with employers, industry associations, user groups and the state, we believe the IT unemployment rate is less than 2 percent. For the most part and with some exceptions everyone in IT is working. Assuming this to be generally true we would be back to an employment market resembling peak employment of November 2007."
It might seem counterintuitive, but the right time for professional networking is when things are going well -- when you're fully employed, meeting new people as a natural part of your job, feeling confident and have news and information to share.
Of course, it takes discipline to keep on networking; you don't want to recall the dark days when you were asking everyone if they had any leads. Now's the time to avoid being the person that people only hear from when he or she wants something.
In addition to improving your personal chances for ongoing career success, networking makes the whole community stronger. Just weeks before the upheaval of Sept. 11, 2001, the New York-based consulting company Genesis 10 opened a branch in the Twin Cities. That branch has grown to be Genesis 10's largest, and many of the company's most successful innovations started here.
Jeanine Rickson, Genesis 10's chief talent officer who was one of the local branch founders, credits that success, in part, to the Twin Cities technology network. "We have a market that's strong and diverse," she said. "The Project Management Institute and International Institute of Business Analysts are much stronger and more active than in other communities. We have talented professionals who are continuous learners, growing their craft. You don't see that in every community."
In a vibrant technology community like ours, the opportunities for networking are many and varied. Here are just a few:
Project Management Institute-Minnesota (PMI-MN). The chapter holds monthly meetings and an annual professional development seminar. The "Chapter that Cares" also offers numerous volunteer opportunities (www.pmi-mn.org).
International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) of Minneapolis-St. Paul. This group offers monthly meetings, continuing education, social events and volunteer opportunities (www.iibamsp.org, or follow the chapter on Facebook).
Twin Cities Code Camp. An organization "by and for the developer community," TCCC holds events twice a year, in spring and the fall (www.twincitiescodecamp.com).
Girls in Tech Minneapolis-St. Paul. GIT was "born out of a need to provide a place for women to cultivate ideas around their careers and business concepts that involve technology, as well as to inspire young women to pursue technology careers." The Twin Cities chapter, one of 57 nationwide, holds "She's Geeky" networking events and an annual "unConference" (www.gitmsp.org).
If you really don't have the time to attend a networking event or meeting, try these LinkedIn groups for discussions and sharing:
Twin Cities Technology Professionals
Minnesota High Tech Association
Minnesota Information Technology Professionals
Minnesota Medical Technology Network