(BPT) - If you're an IT professional, you've probably experienced times when you feel isolated in your own information bubble. Your daily tasks, on top of your short- and long-term professional goals, are usually more than enough to demand your full attention. But if you haven't had the opportunity to get outside of that bubble and network with other IT pros, you could be missing out - not only on ways to advance your career, but also to learn about the latest innovations and thought leadership in your field.

As an industry, IT is continually evolving, sometimes at a breakneck pace, so connecting with your colleagues both within and outside your organization is crucial to staying ahead of the game and doing your best, for yourself and your team.

What are the benefits of networking with others in your field? Here are some ways you can benefit from making those connections:

  • Staying current on IT news and trends
  • Learning about career opportunities
  • Building your own personal brand
  • Exchanging ideas and insights with peers
  • Expanding your IT knowledge base
  • Finding resources to boost your skill set
  • Meeting leaders in your field who could become mentors

To get started, begin with your own company - then start expanding your networking opportunities outward. Encourage your organization's peers to do the same, so you can all benefit from the increased knowledge and professional connections you develop.

Connecting within your own team

How long has it been since you brainstormed and shared ideas with your own colleagues about the challenges you're all facing? When you're at your busiest, connecting with your peers in your company may consist of brief check-ins, plus requests for assistance or information when needed.

Create opportunities to meet regularly with IT colleagues in your own business to discuss issues and goals, as well as new insights, information and resources some of you may have discovered that could be helpful to the whole team.

Follow and engage with thought leaders

To stay on top of innovations - and challenges - in your industry, subscribe to top IT newsletters, podcasts and webinars that provide useful information and conversations in the IT space. You can even find groups that cater to your exact area of expertise. For example, if you're a Mac admin, you can follow the MacAdmins podcast or join their Slack group.

Identify high-profile thought leaders in your field so you can follow and engage with them. Don't be shy! Follow them on LinkedIn and connect with them occasionally by asking questions or commenting on their posts. Email or message them to thank them for their contributions or just to connect on a professional level.

Network on a local and national scale

Attend regional and national industry conferences, seminars and lectures when possible. First search for local meetup or networking IT groups on Meetup.com, or via social networking sites like LinkedIn. Then widen your scope to include national and even international groups. Many IT practitioners expand their networking opportunities by attending conferences like Dreamforce, CiscoLive and London Tech Week.

Join an online community forum

To connect with other IT professionals virtually and stay up to date on industry news and best practices, the JumpCloud Community features conversations about all things IT - alongside sharing best practices, career guidance and news about timely industry topics and products. The community also features a variety of helpful guides and templates for IT admins in their everyday work, career spotlights for those in the field and an IT meetup network which takes place both virtually and in person.

'Continual growth and learning are essential to staying ahead in the IT industry, and there's nothing better for that growth than making professional connections,' said Becky Scott, head of community at JumpCloud. 'IT admins at small- to medium-size businesses in particular will find that they really benefit from networking with their peers throughout the industry.'

Ready to get started with your professional networking goals? Learn more at Community.JumpCloud.com.