Gold BlogDon’t Waste Time Building Your Data Science Network

Instead, focus on what matters.

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To someone that reads my articles regularly, you’d probably think that I’m the most contradicting person on the planet. I don’t blame you.

I recently noticed during spoken or written interactions with people, I make a multitude of assumptions about the person(s) I am communicating with. I don’t explicitly define very important aspects before stating exactly what I am saying which, depending on the context, has the potential to dilute the actual message I wish to put across.

Recently, I wrote an article about how we could simplify the initial stages of breaking into Data Science by networking. In response to this article, I received lots of connection requests on LinkedIn stating that they wish to connect with me so that they could build their professional network.

Don’t Make Breaking Into Data Science Harder Than It Needs To Be

Don’t get me wrong, I do not have an issue with people connecting with me. In fact, I encourage it at the end of every article I write. I’m extremely grateful that I am in a position where people wish to connect with me and follow me on my journey in Data Science. The purpose of sharing my experiences with you all is that I wish to express the realities of being a Data Scientist or freelancer from my point of view, as we all strive to become indispensable.

To put it blandly…


Oops, I did it again. Let me explain… Networking the way we know it, or the way we’ve been told to do it is completely dead.

In truth, I haven't been able to come up with a good enough name to describe what proper networking really is so I still make reference to the real way of networking as networking.

It is very possible to waste time building your Data Science network. Here is what it looks like;

  • Making random connections with people because their job description says “Data Scientist
  • Purely seeking your personal gain — i.e. A job
  • Connecting for future opportunities — i.e. I am learning to be a Data Science but maybe one day in the future we could work on a project together.

This form of networking isn’t networking in my opinion. It’s a complete dud. A waste of time.


The Real Networking

Here is how I think of networking…

If you are building something interesting then there will always be people that want to know you.

Plain and simple.

Why do people want to meet Elon Musk? If you said because he’s a billionaire, you’ve fallen into the trap once again. It’s the wrong mindset. If you’re thinking about his billions, it’s likely you’re thinking about what’s in it for you. That’s the taker's mindset.

People want to meet Elon Musk because he makes things that people want. He’s a problem solver, He’s needed!

If you are trying to build a network for any of the 3 reasons listed above, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY WASTING YOUR TIME — time that could be spent building something interesting that people want which would result in people wanting to know you.

If you take a look at the popular people on LinkedIn that discuss Data Science you would see exactly what I am talking about;

  • Vin Vashista — Building a mindset around the best practices that should be taken in Data Science. This includes everything from Machine Learning in production to Hiring.
  • Harpreet Sahota — Building a community where Data Scientists of all levels feel safe to share experiences and ask questions. He also has built a Podcast where he interviews some of the most interesting people in Data Science, and people that have absolutely nothing to do with the field.
  • Kate Strachnyi — Building a community of Data Storytellers. This includes educating people on how to become better storytellers, using data.

The list goes on…

I know what you’re thinking as you read through the list of names I’ve shared with you —

These people have all been in the field for years”.

And that’s very true… Every building must start from somewhere.

Start your Data Science Journey in 4 Steps


The Right People Will Find You

Essentially, all I am saying when I mention networking is that you should focus on creating things that people want. Be a creator. That way, the right people will come and find you.

From my observations, the people that have connected with me that are the most memorable are the ones that connected with me for the following reasons;

  • They wish to keep up with the content I’m sharing
  • They have a well-researched question around the content I am creating
  • They have an opportunity that they believe would be of value to us both

It’s not to say I haven’t had people connect with me to ask me for work and other things that aren’t on this list, I have. But, these people dwindle away pretty quickly.

In my opinion, If you ever catch yourself trying to connect with someone online outside of these 3 reasons then I would suggest you catch yourself in the act. Whatever you do or say would likely come off as desperate, and may jeopardize the relationship before it starts.

If you want really want to build a strong network, the right people will find you the moment you decide to start creating.

To begin creating, you don't need to start with a blog like I have done; There are so many different ways for you to create things people want.

  • Projects
  • Summaries
  • Case Studies
  • Vlog/Blog
  • Sharing High Ranking Competition Solutions
  • Converting Research Papers to Code

These ideas do not have to begin granularly. All that matters is that you begin to create and you share what you are creating — Eventually, the right people will come looking for you.

The Most Important Data Science Project


Final Thoughts

Becoming a creator and sharing what you are doing online may seem like a daunting task at first, especially if you’re naturally introverted as I am — overcoming this issue begins by sharing one thing then never stopping from there. If you wish to grow a strong and healthy network then it’s important that you step into the shoes of a creator — from then, everything would come to you.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with my posts about Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Freelancing.


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Bio: Kurtis Pykes is a Machine Learning Engineer, a Top Writer at Towards Data Science, and an Upwork Top Rated Freelancer. Follow his Medium blog.

Original. Reposted with permission.