Is Networking Necessary for Cyber Security? Networking can be the difference between having or not having success in cyber security. While many people think that networking might not be necessary, others believe that it’s one of the most important things you can do in your cyber security career if you want to get ahead of everyone else on the job market. Both camps make valid points, but it boils down to how seriously you want to approach your career as well as how motivated you are when it comes to finding new opportunities and cultivating relationships with others who will help you out along the way. Let’s take a look at both arguments and see which makes more sense here.
Is Networking Necessary for Cyber Security?
- Yes, networking is necessary
- Why network with others in the industry
- How to make those connections
- Dealing with your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- Being yourself on these platforms
Yes, networking is necessary
Everyone thinks they can succeed in cyber security by relying solely on their technical skills. It’s nice to think that if you do everything right and never make a mistake, your reputation will precede you. But that’s not reality. You need to network, or as a networking guru, Keith Ferrazzi puts it: Build relationships with people who matter, then trust them to help bring you additional value. Because no one is going to come looking for you if they don’t know who you are or what you do; in fact, no one cares about those things until someone mentions your name. Think of yourself as an insurance agent: would anyone want to do business with a random guy on his porch handing out cards and claiming he can provide coverage?
As a cyber security professional, you may feel that you have nothing in common with an insurance agent. But look closer. The work an insurance agent does is all about building relationships: finding trusted people who are connected to and respected by a network of other professionals. Some of these people might be colleagues, but they’re also likely to be clients, customers, or industry insiders who can introduce you to new prospects and help get your name out there when opportunities arise. As Ferrazzi points out in Never Eat Alone, many successful business people got their start with a simple referral from someone they knew—and they’re ready to pay it forward by offering advice and other forms of assistance.
Why network with others in the industry
The security industry is vast, which means there are many different paths to success. Whether you’re interested in IT, software development, forensics, or law enforcement, you should meet with other professionals in your field. These contacts can lead to job opportunities and even potential partnerships with others in your field. In addition to helping you build a professional network, joining organizations like ISSA and SANS can also benefit your career and help improve your overall cyber security knowledge. If it looks interesting and sounds like something that would make your job easier — as well as provide an avenue of support if/when someone comes after you — then why not take advantage of these resources? You might learn a thing or two about yourself along the way too!
How to make those connections
In order to find your way into these circles, you’ll need to network. That means attending industry conferences, events, and meetups. If you can afford it, hiring a business development executive or an assistant who specializes in connecting people will help you make connections even more quickly—but don’t expect that person to take care of all your networking needs. You still have to be willing to put yourself out there! The better your connections, the more doors will open up for you professionally and personally.
When people find out they know someone in common, they are naturally much more likely to say yes when asked if they’d like to chat about a new project or opportunity. There are a number of events focused on cybersecurity throughout any given year. Make a point to attend at least one, if not two or three, every year. Look into local and regional groups that share your interests and meet people who you’d like to know better.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to these people via email or LinkedIn messages—there are several ways you can do so without seeming overly pushy. It may take time before you make that connection, but it will come—and when it does, it will pay off! You don’t need to become friends with everyone you meet—just have a few people in mind whom you could use as references when needed or call on if they have expertise that may be helpful in your current project.
Dealing with your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Make sure that you’re being honest and genuine when interacting with other professionals in your industry. Don’t just put up a token post every now and then; get to know other professionals by engaging with them regularly and exchanging value-adding comments or advice. Building trust with these connections will pay off immensely if they happen to be in a position to refer to your name as a candidate, even if it’s on an informal basis. Your network is key to furthering your career, so make sure that you’re using social media as a networking tool instead of just communicating solely within your own circle of friends.
As with anything in life, self-promotion and bragging have no place in networking. Instead, focus on building genuine connections and not just relying on existing relationships or online profiles to boost your career. While LinkedIn is great for making connections and keeping track of them all, it should be a means to an end rather than an end unto itself; you’ll want to engage with people regularly through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to show that you can provide value outside of existing business contacts.
Being yourself on these platforms
When you’re networking, it can be tempting to market yourself using big words or pretend to be something you’re not. But there’s a little secret that every entrepreneur needs to learn: You need your network to connect with who you are. That means sharing articles that inspire you and aren’t just product pitches. It means talking about books and TV shows that have influenced your life. The more real your relationships with others become, the more likely they are to trust you and want to do business with you in return.
Of course, it can be difficult to share personal things online. We’re all worried about what our networks will think of us, and no one wants to be snooped on by people we barely know. But at a certain point, being open and sharing your passions is more valuable than worrying about how you’ll look when someone sees you in a vulnerable moment. If you don’t have those vulnerable moments when there are other humans around, how are you ever going to get close enough with anyone to build strong relationships that lead to business opportunities?