The thought of interacting with people they don’t know can strike fear into the heart of the stereotypical engineer. However, networking is no longer restricted to in-person meet-and-greets where success is based on the number of business cards collected. Networking is about leveraging the power of an engineer’s existing network, and much of this can be done online and on the phone.
The Power of Networking for Engineers
Why is networking so important? Today, the majority of jobs are not publicly advertised in newspapers or on job boards. This large fraction of “hidden” jobs must be tapped through word of mouth and networking tactics.
Engineers who are looking for a new position must use networking as part of their job search approach or risk missing out on a potentially large number of engineering positions.
Tapping Existing Engineering Contacts
Networking is not necessarily about meeting new people. Engineers can tap into their existing relationships and networks to learn about potential opportunities. These networks could include:
- College classmates
- Former co-workers
- Engineering society members
- Non-engineering interest groups
- Volunteer organisations
Engineers can begin by speaking with the engineers they already know, and collect information on a variety of industries, technologies, and potential openings.
Using Online Networking Resources
The internet is now the primary source for information gathering, and engineers need to take advantage of the resources that are available to research potential opportunities an to cultivate their online presence. Hiring managers are likely to perform an internet search for an engineer whose resume crosses their desk to learn more about him.
Some of the resources that an engineer can use include:
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the social networking side for business professionals. LinkedIn gives engineers the opportunity to showcase their expertise, to link with other engineers in their personal and professional networks, to join groups related to their area of interest, and to view engineering job openings posted on the site.
- Professional Society Forums – Most engineering professional societies have community forums for their membership. By interacting on these forums, engineers can increase their professional visibility and connect with engineers around the world.
- Web Sites and Blogs – Engineers can create their own personal web sites and blogs to help to develop online content that will be found when someone searches for them on the internet. A website and blog can act as a virtual resume and a place for the engineer to share content that is relevant to his technical area of expertise. Content can include articles, tutorials, commentary, white papers, and links to the engineer’s presence elsewhere on the internet.
By taking advantage of existing network and online tools, engineers can expand their visibility on the internet, put forward a positive web presence, and connect with other engineers with similar interests.