After Apurva Devarajan connects with new professional contacts, she likes to send interesting articles or ideas she’s recently come across. The practice allows Amherst’s associate product manager to engage in a dialogue that widens her knowledge base.
While it can be intimidating to get involved in the tech scene, Austin tech companies are introducing initiatives to diversify their workforces and help professionals like Devarajan network. They are partnering with communities like WomenHack to find the best engineering talent and creating employee resource groups dedicated to minorities in tech.
But there’s still significant progress to be made in the industry.
Oftentimes, that progress starts with employers and individuals reaching out to people with diverse backgrounds.
“I think conversing with individuals who come from different backgrounds and experiences is an excellent way to broaden our horizons and thought processes,” Devarajan said.
What are some networking groups, events or organizations you've participated in that have helped you build a meaningful professional network?
As a former concert pianist who is relatively new to America, I had to build my tech network from the ground up. I heavily relied on Brown University's alumni network. Not only did the network give me access to a wealth of resources, but it also helped me build a geographically diverse professional network.
Because I built my network using Brown, I am able to attend various events in multiple cities across the country — and hopefully across the globe, in the future — to create a web of professional relationships. In addition, I attend various business and charitable events in Austin and around other cities in Texas.
What other strategies do you have for connecting with professionals who understand or share your experiences?
My sole strategy for connecting with professionals is to find individuals who are dynamic, think outside the box and are passionate about what they are doing. When I meet people who come from similar backgrounds, I always like to chat about how our individual experiences have brought us to where we are today.
On the other hand, I think conversing with individuals who come from different backgrounds and experiences is an excellent way to broaden our horizons and thought processes.
Establishing a meaningful relationship takes time and effort.’’
How do you establish meaningful, long-term relationships with people once you've connected with them?
Establishing a meaningful relationship takes time and effort. One of the lessons I've learned about building long-term professional relationships is that stimulating conversations and using peers as a sounding board for innovative ideas goes a long way.
For example, I like to send interesting articles and ideas to people I've connected with. Engaging in a dialogue widens our knowledge base and strengthens the relationship.