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Experience: Recently when I was hunting around for jobs I sent out a large number of applications (for jobs in a different city) and only after about 1-2 months did I even any responses, however by that time I had already managed to get a job through a lecturers contacts. This also aligns well with what I have heard that in IT 80% of jobs are achieved through a "hidden network".

About me: I'm a recent graduate with a BCS and working as a software developer. I live in a small town in New Zealand. I have about 7 months experience under my belt working for a company where I completed my degree. I want to work here for another 1-2 years and then move on.

Goal: When I move on I either want to move to Europe somewhere and work there for a few years or work in the capital of New Zealand and work there for 2 years (approx) and then head off to Europe. Either way I need to try and find a job in another city which is doable through the official channels (recruitment agency, stack exchange careers etc etc) however also very challenging and quite frankly I have never actually achieved a job through official channels.

Question: How do I build up a professional network that would allow me to potentially achieve a job in another city? I have time to prepare which should help. NOTE: I already go to User groups where I live, however the developer population here is limited at best. I do however struggle with maintaining/making those professional connections, so as a side part to this question if anybody knows of any great questions/tutorials/blogs on how to make a professional network from small talk/colleagues it would be very much so appreciated.

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I would not worry about a "professional network", because in all honesty the chances that your "network" would intersect with a good opportunity is small. Even worse, you could waste a lot of time talking to people of marginal relevance to your career.

The way to get a good job is to specialize and know your stuff, then approach a well-chosen employer that is the best possible match for you.

Your main problem right now is that your experience is probably limited and you may have very generic skills that are not compelling, or at least do not really differentiate you from many other candidates. The way to fix this is to focus on your strongest area and emphasize it ("I am a Struts expert" or whatever). Try to write an article for magazine on Struts or whatever. Then look for a company that is seeking that exact skill.

If you can combine it with domain expertise, that is even better (I am a Struts expert and I have a degree in chemistry). Then apply to a chemical company that is looking for a Struts developer.

Expertise is the key to getting a satisfying job, not a "network".

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