Networking events for IT professionals. Award winning blog series. Weekly podcast. Meet. Read. Listen. By @echodave, @bobwaltenspiel

Evolution

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Originally posted 2015-04-20 14:06:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Now that I’m taking some time to gather my thoughts beyond “Thank you” after last night’s event at the BlackFinn, one of the conversations that I had is really resonating with me this morning.

It’s about the evolution of our group.  Where we’ve been, where we are now, and the changes that we’ve seen not just in ourselves, but in the group’s composition and goals, the job market, and what people are both looking for and expecting from us these days.

On some level, it’s fascinating.  On another, it’s terrifying…

Now, I covered a bunch of “the basics” about a year and a half ago when I was having some thoughts about perspective, which is still live out at http://www.ITinTheD.com/631/its-all-about-perspective/ and so I won’t rehash what’s out there.

But in the 18 months since that was written, there’s been a major shift in the job market.  Our Pink Slip Party events started as…well, as a defense mechanism more than anything else.  When more than half the folks showing up to our casual networking events weren’t looking to network but were instead looking for jobs, we had to do something.  We were dedicated to keeping the networking process going, but we also wanted to help out the people looking for jobs, and so the Pink Slip Parties were born to help job seekers get face time with recruiters, something that just wasn’t happening for a lot of them.

But now we’re at a point where it’s almost flipped completely around – now, instead of job seekers blowing up our inboxes on a daily basis asking when our next event will be taking place, recruiters are the ones doing the poking.  They want referrals, they need candidates with a clue, they want someone that one of us actually knows and can tell them about…because their candidate tracking systems aren’t having the results they need any more.  The market has changed, and those who are looking have been able to get pickier about who they talk to about their job search.

And so while the basics still apply – it’s all about the personal connections, it’s not what you know but who you know, you get more out of two minutes of face time than you ever will during a day full of emails and web surfing…now that’s directed towards the recruiters.  I talked with no fewer than three people looking to hire last night who said the same things – posting a job ad is useless, no matter where it’s posted.  Monster.  Dice.  Craigslist.  Indeed.  Local boards.  They’ve tried them all, and the results just aren’t there.

Which certainly contributed to there being so many new faces at last night’s event.  Sure, they’ve heard about us in the past, but they never really figured they needed to go to anything like our events…and now they’re realizing that yes, they really do.  One of the people there last night looking to hire someone actually said it best himself – the person that hired him for his job is someone that he knew from a networking event for a year before a job offer happened.

Steve from Arrow Strategies had a similar story – he finally found a fit for someone from our group that he met ages ago at one of our events.  But when the gig crossed his desk, he remembered exactly who he wanted to talk with based on their conversations at earlier events, called him up, and a new hire took place this past Monday.

I’ve talked before about the “generations” of ITintheD.com members.  The first generation are those who came to our events back in the beginning, or are hitting our event for the very first time after stumbling across us somehow.  The second generation hit when the first generation of recruiters, people looking to build their networks, and job seekers had some success, and began spreading the word to their friends and co-workers (and in some cases, family) about us, and they too began to arrive.  The third generation took place as some people decided they would become entrepreneurs who started their own companies, and began to arrive for networking and idea-bouncing purposes while the venture capital folks circled and listened for ideas worth investing in.

And now the fourth generation has started to show up.  Those who have started their own companies, had a little success, and are now looking to make that critical first hire.

Much like a family gathering, all four generations exist and can be found at our events, and it creates a rather interesting dynamic as problems are shared and discussed, strategies and approaches are critiqued and suggested…it’s all very cool to watch happen.  The first time attendee looking for a job who winds up talking with someone who’s been coming for years and happens to be looking for that exact skillset to hire.  Overhearing “That’s Dave and Jeff – I’ll introduce you, and then just listen to what they say, trust me” as a frequent attendee has brought along a friend for their first exposure to our group.

All four generations have something in common though – they have expectations.

They read a story on our site about someone who hired someone, and so they expect that they’ll find their ideal candidate waiting at the bar ordering a drink.

They’ve heard from a friend who found a job at one of our events that it can be done, and so they expect that our group can do the same for them.

They’ve heard that we’re all about information technology, and so they expect that someone in the room will solve their problem and make them successful.

Heavy expectations…and also not all that realistic.

Remember The Ten Commandments of Networking, specifically number one…oh, and number four…dammit, and number…you know what?  Go read The Ten Commandments of Networking: http://www.ITinTheD.com/68/the-ten-commandments-of-networking/

But we continue to do what we can to help.  So far, for three guys with actual day jobs doing this in what we laughingly call “our free time”, I think we’re doing okay.  We listen.  We see.

We evolve.  The group evolves.

One thing’s certain…and I can’t possibly be clear enough about this…something else that I said last night is very true: ITintheD.com has, in many ways, almost become like a child to me, and I’m an extremely proud parent.  With every story of a new hire, with each packed room I see full of people having conversations (some casual, some heated…), with all the new faces that continue to show up for the first time…all anxiety inducing, but all awesome moments.

So we’ll continue to try new things in the coming year.  We’ll tweak, we’ll evolve, and we’ll probably screw up at least once.

And yes, we’re quite confident that you’ll tell us when we do.

I guess that’s enough cheesy rambling for one entry.  Come see us next monthhttp://www.ITinTheD.com/meet/

 

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