I spoke at a panel at Edmonds Community College today.  It was designed to help students get ideas to increase their chances of finding a job.  The other panelists tended to treat it like a resume clinic or job interview seminar.  They missed the point.

The point was *networking* — the ways people connect and relate to each other.

It occurred to me that even if someone in the audience was successful in landing a job, there was no guarantee they were going to keep it.  I was hired once, and laid off 7 months later. The anxiety of the economy might not stop just because you got hired.  Sure, some bills might get paid, but now you have the problem of wondering when they won’t.

It’s tough out there, but networking has saved me. My reputation has been the battle jitney that has not only protected me from some turmoil, but has been conspicuous enough to attract opportunities.  In that spirit, I give you my ideas to increase the likelihood you will be at the right place at the right time or meet the right person with the right opportunity.

* Twitter: tweet something that really resonates with you. Sure, sometimes saying what bagel you had for lunch might help (that’s actually how I met a worthy speaker for QASIG), but give others a chance to know what you find meaningful. Find a hashtag that you’re interested in (like #testing) and reply to someone who said something that resonated with you.

* Facebook: comment on someone’s status with a link you think is relevant and cool. Post your own status about an test idea you have or a thought about a test tool.

* LinkedIn: There are lots of forums in which to participate, so don’t just post a profile and status and leave it there.

*  Blog: start one or comment on one with your full name and email. Give others a chance to say “Where has *this* guy been?!? He’s got game!”

* Seattle Job Social: A regular meetup of employers and seekers in an informal setting — a popular bar in Belltown. I’ve been to two of them — one as an employer, one as a seeker.  Both were useful, but became less so the longer people drank. 🙂

QASIG: Quality Assistance Special Interest Group — free — meets every second Wednesday of every odd month. Sponsored by Quardev — hosts a speaker and free pizza. (I’m its speaker chairman.)

* SASQAG: The Seattle Area Software Quality Assurance Group — free — meets every third Thursday at Compucom (Excell) – hosts a speaker and free snackies. Keith Stobie and Tracy Monteith from Microsoft are its speaker coordinators.

* SEASPIN: The Seattle Eastside Area Software Process Improvement Network — free — meets every month at Construx — – hosts a speaker and free pizza.  Jeff Smith and Steven Smith (no relation) are its speaker coordinators.

* Seattle Lean Coffee: meets every Wednesday morning at Uptown Espresso — free — hosted by Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith.  Devoted to talking about software development problems in the context of  principles and notions of Lean, Agile, XP, Scrum, kanban.

* Open Coffee: meets every Tuesday morning at Louisa’s Cafe on Eastlake. Devoted to entrepreneurs who want to meet with others, as well as venture capitalists.

* OWASP: The Open Web Application Security Project — a meetup dedicated to discussing software  security issues.  This is a worldwide org.

* Volunteer to be a guest speaker at a community college.

* Your local Chamber of Commerce has an events calendar or newsletter.

* Local Business Journals.  In Seattle, we have the PSBJ with an events calendar.

* Technology Associations. In Washington, we have the WTIA with an events calendar.

* Industry Associations. Like the Association for Software Testing. You can volunteer to be a facilitator or help with the website, or the yearly conference.

* Colleges and tech schools. Volunteer to be on their industry (“real world experienced professional”) curriculum advisory board.

I’ll think of more and post them here.

Comment to add your ideas, too.

Or, do one of these above and tell me how it went.