To complement our new certification, the VMware Certified Associate, we’ve examined the certifications value and ongoing professional education to help you do better work, advance your career, and stand out when applying and interviewing for new jobs.
There is one final benefit to certification that we want to be sure to highlight: community. Studying for and completing a certification exam constitutes a shared experience that we often find professionals bond over. And with that specific knowledge, you also gain a vocabulary and an understanding that forever makes you part of a group of colleagues who also speak that language and understand where you’re coming from.
Over the years, these cohorts have formed numerous groups. First and foremost, there are the VMware certification community forums. On LinkedIn you’ll find the VMware Training and Certification group, the VMware Certified Professional group (+37K members!), and an extensive list of groups dedicated to specific VMware products. These are a great way to connect with peers online; for real-world networking, it doesn’t get much better than the VMware User Group (VMUG), with more than 80,000 members and local events around the world.
Although these are technical groups designed to share knowledge, they also present a great opportunity to build relationships that could later help you build your career. As long as you are genuine and generous in the way you form these connections (i.e. “network”), there’s no reason that term has to carry the negative connotation it apparently does.
We say “apparently” because a quick search of “networking tips” returns an endless list of posts reassuring people—especially the introverts—that it’s not so bad. Rather than rehash what turns out to be some truly useful advice, we thought we’d point out some of our favorites and let you decide which works best for you.
This post by James Clear is ridiculously comprehensive and drives home the best practice of giving first without expecting anything in return. If you read nothing else, we recommend this one.
Favorite Tip: Develop the habit of introducing people.
Connecting like-minded people is a powerful [way] to enhance your network. The idea of doing this seems foreign to many people, but it is actually quite easy. Do you know two people who enjoy reading the same type of books? Or like the same sports teams? Or love reading about history? Or work in the same industry? You get the point. Don’t make it hard, just introduce the two of them by sharing their common interest. They can decide if they want to pursue the relationship further.
Considering this piece is from CIO.com, we’re guessing that the tech audience is even less inclined to networking than the average person. If that’s you, these tips will be particularly helpful.
Favorite Tip: Stop Apologizing
Introverts and inexperienced networkers often apologize when asking for an individual’s help because they see networking as an imposition, not as an exercise in relationship building.
If you’re more of a visual learner, this hand-illustrated SlideShare presentation has surprisingly specific suggestions (that just might work).
Favorite Tip: How can an introvert join a conversation already in progress?
Choose one cluster of people. Focus on one person. Ask, “Could I join you?”
This is another comprehensive list, with some nice outside-the-box suggestions, like volunteering at events or organizing your own.
Favorite Tip: Arrive Early
As an early arriver, you have a chance to engage one-on-one with a few attendees before all of the noise and bustle sets in. You also have the luxury of making the first impression in people’s minds before they are drowning in business cards and handshakes. In fact, you might have so many fruitful conversations in the first half hour that you don’t have to stick around for the full networking event. Win-win!
TechCocktail, a startup event organizer, has collected advice from a dozen young entrepreneurs, including some that goes beyond the usual pabulum.
Favorite Tip: Find a Networking Wingman
For any networking event, it can be helpful to have a networking “wingman.” Together, you can naturally draw others into your conversation. This is particularly true if your networking wingman is knowledgeable about an industry you are unfamiliar with. If nothing else, the event will provide you with an opportunity to get to know your networking wingman better.