A programmer who got a job from an informal chat at a BCS branch meeting has been held up as an example of the value of personal networking through IT events.
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"He was made redundant from a manufacturing company, and thanked us for the introductions," said Alan Jones, an officer at the BCS Teesside Branch.
"We also had a company which picked up as a partner an e-commerce retailer with customer behaviour data to analyse. Networking is most highly valued - often even above the content of the presentations at a meeting."
Web developer Asif Iqbal got into personal networking to such an extent that he joined the BCS Young Professionals Group committee and became treasurer.
"Networking is very important for anyone who wants to get ahead in their career," he said. "It has helped me develop my career, my confidence and other skills.
"It is important to network in your work environment and with people outside IT too, as this can open up opportunities and career development. Most young IT professionals tend to gain IT skills via their company but not soft skills like networking or making presentations.
"I am now more confident talking to others and can structure my conversation. I used to shy away from networking at events, but I am now more than happy to strike up a conversation."
The benefits of meeting fellow professionals of all levels through networking events were highlighted by Brett Sumner, chairman of the BCS Jersey Section.
"IT professionals can talk to people they would not ordinarily have direct access to, in a comfortable and relaxed social environment," he said. "Junior IT staff and students can meet and chat with senior professionals and in some cases government officials.
"There is also access to quality speakers, presentations and events, which are normally reserved for senior representatives of companies. BCS meetings might include a visit to a company, where directors make themselves available. Presentations are open to a wider audience, often providing first-class hospitality that is normally reserved for an organisation's upper echelons.
"Conversely, meetings provide the opportunity for senior professionals to meet all levels of staff from different industries and hear what is happening on the ground. This is equally important, as it enables IT decision makers to continually assess current trends and issues from perspectives other than their own."
North London Branch chairman Dalim Basu said, "Small companies enjoy mixing with big organisations at BCS events, and also see benefit in being associated with the society.
"Academics get contact with the industry professional body and with working professionals. They often promote events to their students to get them on the path to professionalism."
Antony Hayes, a manager in Deloitte's consultancy practice, said, "For some people networking means meeting peers to discuss technical matters to both learn and share ideas and get feedback.
"For others it is a way to promote what they do, their service or products. Equally there are combinations of these, which bring real value: for example, where a technical specialist networks with someone from a supplier and they form a partnership.
"By welcoming IT professionals at all stages of their careers, and students, informal events foster an environment that encourages reuse rather than reinvention of the wheel."
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