The information technology field is vast and one that is constantly evolving. With the rise of digitisation its essential for IT professionals to stay ahead of the curve and invest in the relevant technical and soft skills. Networking with your peers is key to staying relevant within the industry and can provide untold opportunities to progress your career and professional network. But, how can you build your network?
Join associations – Join associations such as the Information Technology Professionals Association and attend conferences to meet like-minded professionals. These associations are a great way to extend your professional network, provide career resources and offer various membership benefits.
Social Media – Online networking is perhaps the most widely used networking tool today. Everyone is busy with their personal and professional lives and don’t always have the time or capacity to meet in person. IT groups on LinkedIn are a great way to connect with fellow IT professionals and stay on top of current trends instantly.
Lifelong Learning – It goes without saying that continual learning will improve your skills and can progress your career. Undertaking a postgraduate degree such as a Master of Information Technology Management can build upon technical and software skills whilst embedding the management skills necessary for leadership roles.
Industry Meet-ups– It can be difficult to attend formal conferences and plan far in advance, but often you can have a similar networking experience at industry meet-ups. Subject to space and availability, you can sign up to meet-ups across Australia with one day’s notice, share ideas, discuss topics and presentations with your peers. You can find a list of meetups in Australia here.
Communication is key
You may possess years of experience and technical prowess, but if you’re not an effective communicator then it can be hard to land that dream job or even progress your career. In today’s climate, people communicate daily through different mediums, so it’s important to be confident in your ability on- and offline.
How can you improve your communication skills?
Speak the common language – Resist the temptation to speak in jargon. To communicate effectively, it’s important to realise that not everyone will understand technical language.
Scrum sessions – More often than not, there are several projects running at once for an IT professional and it can be difficult to keep up as well as communicate effectively. Hosting one-on-one scrum sessions across your teams enables everyone to touch base and share any updates and project developments. Finding new opportunities to communicate with clients or team members by reflecting on past experiences will gradually build your communications skills.
Focus on results – People want results. Focus on communicating the outcomes and values of a project to clients or colleagues. Although it’s important to outline processes, it’s not always necessary to delve into the little details.
Use data visualisation – Engage your clients or business stakeholders with effective data storytelling. Create a compelling story around the figures and analytics using interactive graphs rather than a spreadsheet. This ensures the data is clear and concise – reducing the risk of figures being misunderstood or misrepresented. The future of data visualisation is AR and VR – watch this space. Check out the range of SAS visual analytics courses here.