9 responses to “Networking: A Guide For Engineers”

  1. jrspruitt

    Social skills seem really hard to be taught, or teach. This is probably the best way to learn them, by doing. Treat it as such, and you won’t get caught up with the “score.” Which some people seem to get bogged down by, how much help they get, vs haven got, or successful attempts at creating social ties with other people. Just keep at it, and you’ll get better, you’re name will get out there, and before you know it, you’ve created a network of people. Seems a lot of unlikable people are simply that, because they complain about the “score” or think everyone should want to be their best bud, or always need to prove they are the best, instead of not worrying about it, rolling with the punches and moving on. Your attitude towards it can be your worst enemy. I wouldn’t think of this as shallow either, its not like you’re claiming they are all your best friends, its a loose knit group of people interested in the same things you are, it is what it is. I think you also got to keep the right mind set about it, cause yeah, the marketing speak life coach self help spin thats been put on it, makes it sound really annoying, when it can actually be a fun activity. Its what I do to make it more entertaining, make it about the skill set, and who knows, you might just find your next good friend doing it.

  2. GEARS

    Ok, I’ll put on my serious face (and swallow my apprehension of using the word networking).

    If you’re in grad school, a really good place to network is at conferences. When you’re there try to get your colleagues to introduce you to everyone that they know. If you’re good in your field and the conference committee accepts it, try to get on the planning committee. You’ll definitely meet people that way.

    Doing something like that not only means you’ll meet new people but you’ll also see a different side of things like professional society politics, cliques among professional society members, and some gossip. Plus, it will help you switch from thinking like an engineer to thinking like a manager.

    I did that during the first year of my PhD work and it was great and I’ve been doing it ever since then. Even if you don’t have anything to present at the conference and your university won’t pay, pay for it yourself. If you maintain a constant presence and make yourself known, people will remember you.

    Ok, snarky face back on…

  3. Ron Amundson

    I remember spending a few days working a state fair booth for First Lego League some years back. It was pretty cool as we generated a lot of interest amongst the youngsters who stopped by. It was likewise really cool, in that during the down times, multi-disciplinary tech talk cranked up to the max. The info and contacts gathered during those 4 hour shifts shed some new light, and helped solve a production problem I’d been struggling with for months.

    Volunteering created an opportunity for multi-cross-pollination that would have been impossible during the normal course of business, especially since we didnt have any chem-E’s on staff. Likewise, had it not been for the IEEE, the probability of FLL involvement, much less state fair duty would have been about nil.

  4. Richard Kirby

    You are correct that no one ever tells you how to do it, including Mr. Bolles in What Color Is Your Parachute. He devotes less than 5 pages of type to this critical career subject, whereas I have an entire chapter (the largest in my book) that is more than 30 pages. I lay out a detailed/integraged strategy because, like your readers, I come from an engineering “problem solving” background. The book title is Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!) and your readers can check it out at http://www.fasttrackyourjobsearch.com. If you would like a complimentary copy to see what I am saying is true, email me your snail mail address to executiveimpact@gmail.com and I will send you a free copy.
    Best wishes and keep up the good work!
    Richard Kirby, CMC, CPC (and former P.E.)
    Executive Career Consultant

  5. Bryan Madison

    It’s true nobody teaches you how to network, and just like you said, “engineers aren’t great in social situations.” It’s about time somebody laid it all out there. I have found this to be the most difficult about becoming an engineer. However, I found it to be more of getting out of your comfort zone and trying to be a little bit more out going. It’s like any other social situation you got to break the ice, once you do it becomes easier and easier.

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