Mentors, new business growth opportunities, and staying on the cutting edge: these are all a critical part of staying competitive in the technology field. As a woman in technology, building a strong network and learning how to tap into the available resources to grow your company is key. Whether you’re seeking a mentor or simply interested in expanding your network to people with shared interests, connecting to the technology ecosystem in your area is essential. It can help you discover job opportunities, find investors to start your own business, or identify new clients.
If you’re from a smaller area or don’t have the budget to travel to large industry events, it can be difficult to find the best way to connect with resources. As with many challenges of a career in technology, you can find a solution by thinking creatively. In this post, we’ll outline some common networking options, and then highlight local resources for women in tech in different parts of the country as a starting point.
Consider National Organizations
National organizations dedicated to women in technology can help you meet others who face similar challenges and have helpful perspectives on achieving career goals. The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) is one example of a national organization focused on supporting women in tech fields. NCWIT has a number of alliances centered on a particular segment of women in tech, such as corporate or K–12, so you can connect with others who truly understand your environment, its challenges, and what it takes to get to the next level. TechWomen is another option to consider. The organization works through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and exists as a worldwide platform to provide women in tech with training opportunities, professional development, and higher education. Many organizations offer both online options and local chapters, so it’s possible to connect with support in your city.
Give Back to a Woman-focused Technology Organization
If you own a business or have a successful career in technology, volunteering is a great way to expand your network and help meet other people in your field. A number of organizations that are dedicated to goals such as helping more girls learn to code or supporting women returning from a caregiving break to get back into the workforce have popped up in the last decade. You can volunteer to teach technology skills, or contribute your time and expertise in another capacity to support the non-profit itself. Some organizations to consider include Girls in Tech, Girl Develop It, and Black Girls Code. Another option is to look at partnering with local chapters of youth-centered organizations that might host programs dedicated to supporting girls in tech education.
Participate in Networking Events
Another strategy that can help you meet people in your industry is participating in local networking and “idea-sharing” events. Girl Geek Dinners is an event series that hosts dinnertime networking events for women in all sorts of tech roles, and it’s active in many U.S. cities. Other options aren’t necessarily tech-focused events, but can still be a great way for women in tech to network with other professional women and cultivate contacts across a wider range of industries. One example that has events around the country is Creative Mornings, which is a monthly breakfast meeting where creative professionals can network and share ideas. Look for similar events that may not be restricted to those in the tech field. Women’s Professional Network is another event series with chapters in various parts of the country, so try searching for one in your area.
Connect with Educational Resources
It may seem counterintuitive to turn to students when networking for your career, but partnering with an academic institution could open up new opportunities and help you develop skills that you can use on the job. Reach out to your local community college or tech school, and offer to speak to a class, mentor students, or become involved in other school programs. While you may not meet your next employer through a channel like this, the exposure can help broaden your network and may lead to new opportunities for learning and skill development. If you’re growing your own company and looking for a talent pipeline, this can also be a meaningful way to connect with the next generation of tech talent in your city.
Look for Career-track Organizations
There are a number of organizations across the country focused on supporting women executives and hopefuls. UPWARD for Women is a global organization doing just that, by helping director-level women get to C-suite positions. UPWARD has chapters in most major U.S. cities, and each hosts regular networking events where professional women can get hands-on help to advance their careers. If career development is your goal, an organization like this can become a valuable networking resource. Groups such as Women Who Code offer specialized networking and learning opportunities to help expand your reach and deepen your knowledge base at the same time.
For women in a traditionally male-dominated field, networking can seem like a big challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of organizations and events specifically designed to support women in the tech field or professional women across disciplines. Tapping into these resources can give your career the boost you need by putting you in touch with others who understand your challenges and perspective. Think outside the box, and find ways to grow your reach and connections as you establish yourself as a leading woman in technology.