Portland is one of America’s most unique cities, regularly topping annual “best places to live” lists, and for tech pros, it’s easy to see why. The area is a great place to grow an IT career, and one reason for that is the abundance of opportunities for networking in tech. While landing your next role is not all about who you know, 70% of all jobs are found via professional networking, underscoring how vital it is to your long-term tech career. Here are the best opportunities for tech pros looking to better connect with the Portland IT community.
Portland’s tech scene is one of rapid growth, including a startup culture that generates a flurry of activity and positions. 38 of the country’s fastest-growing startups are located in the area, with venture capital funding rising to well over a quarter of a billion dollars per year. These opportunities have made Portland as exciting as Silicon Valley or New York City, but in a much more inclusive, less intimidating way that sets the stage for superior networking opportunities. Additionally, shared workspace provider WeWork just leased a third Portland location measuring 65,000 square feet, providing further proof that tech pros are open and ready to mingle with their industry peers.
Seeking out conferences and professional development sessions is a popular networking strategy, and for good reason. They provide easy opportunities to not only learn more about topics related to your job but often include breakout sessions and ice breakers that make meeting your peers easier. Portland is home to a number of such conferences, most notably TechfestNW in April and the Portland Tech Summit in September. When studies show that 80% of job openings are never even published, attending one of these events can introduce you to a new acquaintance who just may be able to connect your skill set with an unadvertised opening at their employer.
Meetup and user groups offer similar benefits to conferences but are more frequent and intimate, making them great environments for forming strong connections with other tech pros. There are groups for virtually any niche or skill, and Portland is home to many active chapters. Whether you’re looking for a Drupal Users Group or prefer the casual fun of a Techies on Bikes meetup, there are opportunities for anyone in IT to upgrade their networking.
Tech pros enjoy hackathons not only because they’re an exciting way to put skills into action outside of work, but also because they represent excellent networking opportunities. The one misconception that keeps some from attending is the belief they must compete to enjoy the benefits. In fact, many hackathons include audiences, question and answer sessions with competitors, and opportunities for casual conversation before, during, and after events. At any one of these points, any attendee or audience member can effortlessly interact with other professionals. Portland sees many types of hackathons, including the IoT Hackathon organized by Women Who Code and the low-pressure PDX Weekly Hackathon which boasts beer, board games, and a whole lot of fun.
When networking, it’s easy to have tunnel vision and think specifically about where you might meet other professionals in similar roles. While that certainly is a valid strategy, there is also value in aspiring to meet any tech pro, or for that matter, anybody at all. A lead on your next job (or even your dream job) could come from anywhere. Maybe it’s the Marketing Assistant at a local bank who knows their Portland headquarters is hiring a cybersecurity analyst, or perhaps it will be the husband of the Director of Talent Acquisition at a popular startup who keeps hearing about how hard it is to find a reliable Java Developer.
However it shakes out, getting out into the Portland community by volunteering or attending charity events is the perfect way to meet an array of people who can help you leave no stone unturned. While tech volunteering opportunities are abundant in the area, also consider participating in Rebuilding Together Portland, a soup kitchen, or environmental conservation efforts.
Whether or not you’re actively seeking a new job right now, networking is a vital part of your career and future as a professional in technology. Luckily, the Portland area offers a tremendous number of opportunities to make new connections that represent more than just a one-time boost to your career. Attending one of the above events can turn into a profitable cycle where a single experience or connection introduces you to more, exponentially growing your networking options.