If you’ve had much experience working in an engineering or technical field, you’ve probably heard it said that professional networking is one of the most important things you can do.
No matter your industry, networking is often the key difference between achieving success and simply dreaming of it. Despite all of this emphasis on networking, there’s a good chance you rarely hear anyone talking about how to go about it.
At One Tech Engineering, our engineering and technical recruiters work with Twin Cities professionals to help connect them with the best jobs in the field. It’s our goal to help you become a professional success, and we understand the importance of networking in that equation. In this article, we’ll talk about making professional networking work for you and how our engineering recruiters can help.
Networking Without Purpose Is Ineffective
When you don’t know what the secret is to good networking, there’s a good chance you’re trying to accomplish it without a focused approach. For many less experienced engineering professionals, that means passing out business cards to anyone who will take them and leaving them everywhere.
It also means attending conferences and networking events that don’t necessarily offer many professional benefits. This type of networking can be a good learning experience, but it doesn’t always do much to help advance your career. In short, it’s unfocused and unintentional networking, and it’s taking your energy and focus away from better potential opportunities.
On the other hand, having the right professional tools to network with purpose can be a career-changer.
Intentional networking is networking with purpose. The focus of intentional networking is to build your network by connecting to people who add value to your professional experience.
To build a network that helps you gain professional value and experience, you need to take a more strategic approach rather than simply connect with everyone you encounter in the industry.
Your goal should be to build a network of professional connections like these:
● Sources of industry insight and information.
● People who have good connections themselves.
● Individuals with more industry experience.
Of course, saying you’re going to network with purpose is one thing. Actually doing it is another. So, here are some tips on how to intentionally network.
1. Talk to People at Those Networking Events
Handing out your business card isn’t enough when you’re attending those meetings and conferences. You have to talk (and really talk) with people to see if they can be a good professional source for you. A quick conversation with 20 people won’t be as meaningful or memorable as a longer talk with just a few.
Make it a point to greet five people at an event and talk with them for at least ten minutes about their profession, ideas they have within their profession, hobbies, and work experiences. If you aren’t connecting with them after that, move on, but you won’t know if there’s a connection there unless you give people that time.
If you are creating an authentic connection, keep going! Continue the conversation for as long as you’re comfortable or as long as the conversation is meaningful. Then, hand out your business card or contact info or make plans to meet with the person again.
2. Practice Before Hand (It’s a Good Thing)
Whether you’re comfortable being around lots of people or you’d prefer to hide in your shell, networking takes practice. Before attending an event, go ahead and prepare for it. Being self-assured helps you handle the event well and make those meaningful connections.
Rehearse responses to common questions and prompts, like “Tell me about the work you do” or “How long have you been in this industry?” And prepare similar questions you’d like to ask others.
3. Maintain the Connection
Once you find that person or group of people who resonate with you, stay in touch. It is crucial that you continue to build on that foundation by keeping the conversation going. Try to meet again or touch base regularly. Send insightful or pertinent articles their way occasionally, or ask for advice when you need it.
If the connection you made at a networking event is a potential employer, follow up a few days after the gathering to express your interest in a position, ask about the interview process, or email your resume and cover letter over with a thank you message for giving so much of their time to talk with you at the event.
And when we say “maintain the connection,” that means keep it for months and years if you can. If you haven’t spoken or emailed a former networking connection for months, reach out to them. See how their career is going, if they have new info in the industry, and how their life is. Maintaining a relationship is as important as networking, so always stay in touch.
4. Don’t Just Take, Give Back, Too
We often think of networking as a chance for us to find the people who can help us, but that should be reciprocated. Networking is also a chance for you to help others.
Show your generosity by acting as a reference for them, helping them meet potential clients or employers, or assisting them in recruiting a solid candidate for their team. When you show your dependability and support, you’re more likely to receive help from them when you need it. That’s what solidifying a professional network is all about.
5. Online Connections Can Be Equally As Rewarding
While people often build up their professional network through face-to-face interactions, times are changing. It’s normal now to reach out to other professionals through professional profiles on social media, like LinkedIn, and network that way.
If you notice informative content published by someone in your field or find someone who has the position you’re aiming for, message them with a question, thank them for their time and info, and start the conversation that way.
One of the most useful parts of growing your network through social media is how far-reaching it can become. You can make connections worldwide and gain valuable knowledge across different sectors; you never know where that will take you!
Your Engineering Recruiting Services Team in Minnesota
If your goal is to expand your professional network, it’s important to make sure you’re connecting with people who benefit mutually from the connection. Be strategic and proactive in making your professional connections.
At One Tech in Minnesota, we believe that relationship-building is the key to a successful career as much as it is the key to the success of a good engineering firm. Our engineering recruiters can help connect you with the right organization so you can begin building your professional network.
Whether you’re looking for electrical engineering jobs, mechanical engineering jobs, or structural engineering jobs, we can help. Our engineering recruiters are waiting to hear from you at 952.884.9199, or you can contact us online to learn more about how we can help you grow professionally.