Given the technical, results-oriented nature of engineering, many professionals in the field assume that a degree and a resume are the only tools you need during a job search. But the simple truth is that networking can help you find better jobs faster. And the connections you make can be a crucial asset to your long-term professional development. If you are new to networking, or just want to be more successful at it, use these tips.
You never know where a valuable connection will come from. Approach every networking opportunity with an open mind, and don’t judge a person or group because they have characteristics that you don’t think are valuable.
You should be proactive about the networking process, but not overeager. If you race around a room trying to shake everyone’s hand, you seem more like a desperate politician than a competent engineer. Remember that networking is first and foremost about being social, so try and be a person that people want to meet.
Look for Common Interests
Connecting with strangers is much easier if you can focus on a shared experience or interest. It can be something as small as a link to the same school, or an engineering problem you have both faced. Finding these commonalities makes it easier to engage and helps you to weed out the connections that can’t aid you professionally.
Don’t Reach for Too Much
The goal of most networking conversations is to impart what makes you impressive and unique. But too often, engineers overstate their qualifications, or try to demonstrate expertise with subjects they are only slightly familiar with. This strategy is always a mistake that will catch up to you sooner or later.
Always Follow Through
Connecting with engineers is just the first step. Now you have to turn the relationship into something mutually beneficial. If you have promised to make a call, send an email, or to give a referral, always follow through on it. This establishes you as a valuable connection to have and will encourage others to offer you the same courtesy.
Don’t Neglect the Basics
Never go to any networking event without being professionally dressed and having plenty of business cards on hand. During the event, act in a professional manor, be polite to everyone you meet, and don’t monopolize people’s time. Following simple standards of conduct seems self-evident but is neglected by engineers more often than you would expect.
If you are looking for a job, or looking for a better job, Selectek can help. Our engineering staffing specialists work specifically with engineers like you, and our resources are tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today to discover how much we have to offer.