A Talent Point of View: Meetups
Meetups and small tech events are becoming increasingly common - and they offer a unique opportunity to learn and network with other technologists.
As we progress through London Tech Week 2019, we spoke to Tom Fahey, Managing Director of Talent Point, Peter Rowe, Account Director at Talent Point, and Margarita Karapetkova, Head of Talent Management at Talent Point, to find out more about the value of meetups in professional life.
1. What value do you think meetups and industry talks have in the professional space?
Tom: Technology has made communication more possible and more varied; the way we share information and the convenience of doing so has been turned on its head. That being said, technology has not yet reached a point where it can compete with a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting. Relationships are built far quicker and more effectively offline, hence the value in events that allow like-minded individuals to meet in person.
Pete: That’s true. Also, the tech world does not stand still. If you are not investing in your own learning and development, your career will eventually stagnate. Meetups are a great way to keep up to date with technology and the wider industry, and they’re generally good fun to attend. They also offer great opportunities to build relationships with your peers across the industry.
Margarita: I agree. I do think meetups and industry talks are an incredible resource when it comes to disseminating information. You get to hear from experts in the field – and the great thing about that is that their presentations usually include anecdotal examples based on their personal experiences as opposed to the theory-based content you generally get elsewhere. These events are also very useful for networking.
Tom: Events like these also put an element of chance into meetings that often leads to inspired ideas and outcomes, whereas those engineered online typically feel quite deliberate!
2. Why do tech employers value attendance at meetups or event attendance while hiring?
Pete: Your current employer will be pleased that you are attending meetups as, to some extent or another, you will be representing their business to the wider tech industry. Your next employer will also see it as a strong indicator that you care about developing your skills. I’ve actually seen countless people over the years secure a role using a technology they have not touched in a commercial setting, simply off the back of attending meetups and doing their own personal projects.
Margarita: I think that it shows a desire to learn in your own time, from other people – and that is something that every employer wants to see in a potential employee. It means you are proactive enough to find a meetup and dedicate your time to learning and improving your skillset. It also implies that you will go that extra mile and that you’re not afraid to ask other people for help, or to listen to other people’s advice/perspective.
Tom: I think employers also appreciate it because it helps them gain a more holistic view of technologists, as meetups offer a more natural way for them to showcase their qualities and interests than explicitly and self-consciously shouting about them in a CV. The meetups you attend paint a pretty concise picture of who you are and what you care about in just a few words.
Pete: All that being said, giving up a weekday evening isn’t always possible for everyone – if you have a young family it can be particularly tough to find the time. But in this day and age many meetups will livestream or post videos after the event, so even if you can’t be there in person you can still use them as a useful mechanism to develop your skills and credibility.
3. London Tech Week is this week. Have you attended any events yet? Which events will you be attending?
Margarita: I actually attended one fairly recently on the topic of ‘How are agencies fulfilling the role of the Scrum Master?’. This week, I’m hoping to attend a few more, one of which is the Girls in Tech meet that's running tonight [Wednesday, 12/06].
Pete: I’m currently working on a new meetup which we will run in conjunction with our customers, so I have been out and about attending events over the last few months to understand more about what works and what doesn’t. It’s been really interesting, and it has helped me to improve my knowledge across a range of topics. London Tech Week is a great opportunity for anyone who has been meaning to get involved but hasn’t yet, as there will be many others in the same boat. I’m particularly interested in the Future of Work Summit – I just need to free up my time from the day job as it’s an all-day event!
Tom: Our content manager, Murray, actually curated a list last week in the lead up to Tech Week. I haven’t yet confirmed which events I’ll be attending, but I was quite interested in one event: ‘Why True Connections Should be at the Heart of All Technology’. I think that leads back to what I was saying earlier quite well too: real-world, human connections are essential, and tech doesn’t change that. Good tech should leverage fundamental human relationships.