Help others when you can.
If I had to give one piece of networking or career advice, this would be it.
When you are first getting started in tech, you need to make a lot of asks. You need to ask people to interview you, otherwise you will get no interviews. You need to ask people to make introductions, so that you can find the jobs that are right for you.
Once you get started, your mindset should shift. Instead of thinking about what asks you can make to help you advance, you should think about how you can help others achieve their goals. Pay it forward, in a manner of speaking.
It is easy to get into the mindset where you only do things that provide you with clear value. This was something I struggled with earlier this year as I started to think about how to optimize my time. My mind started to think “well, hopping on a call with this person to help them out is not going to help me.”
Then I realized that helping others in itself is a valuable activity. Doing something to help someone else, and expecting nothing in return, is a great thing to do, both on a personal and a professional level.
On a personal level, helping other people for free feels liberating. If you have helped someone, it is likely that not only have you helped them get better, but you have saved them time.
If you review someone’s blog post, you have saved them the time they may otherwise have needed to spend making corrections that they missed. If you review someone’s deck, you may have saved them the time of walking into pitch meetings with a pitch that only the founders understand.
On a professional level, helping others is a great way to build connections. If you are known as someone who helps others first, then when people have opportunities, they will keep you in mind.
If you have a spare moment, help someone out. Review a blog post. Help someone write their community plan. Take 30 minutes out of your schedule to talk with someone who has been seeking your advice.
Instead of thinking “what can I get out of this,” think about how an interaction will help you in the long run. What seems more valuable to you and your career: reviewing a blog post and breaking the ice with a new potential friend, or ignoring a request and focusing on something else that doesn’t matter in the long run?