Networking is an essential activity for engineers at all stages of their careers, whether or not they are actively looking for new opportunities. Having a strong set of connections is just as important for professional development as keeping knowledge and skill sets sharp. However, relatively few people actually enjoy networking. People do it because they have to, not necessarily because it’s enjoyable. The wrong approach leads to some common mistakes that can do more harm than good. These are the four most common networking mistakes engineers should avoid.
Expecting Too Much, Too Soon
Networking can be an extremely stressful experience, especially at in-person networking events. Many people go to one event, fail to make meaningful connections and consider the entire endeavor a failure. Networking is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is about building relationships and getting to know people, all of which takes a great deal of time and effort. It is important to keep expectations in check when attempting to grow your network. It can take months if not years to see real ROI from ongoing network activities.
Not Meeting Enough People
In order to build an effective network, you must constantly meet and connect with new people. You have to nurture your existing connections and continue to fill your funnel with new people. The good news is that you can utilize different tactics throughout the year in order to meet new people. Networking and professional events can be exhausting – and expensive. Choose events throughout the year that you think will be the most fruitful and then supplement those activities by joining online engineering communities on platforms like LinkedIn to continue to grow your network.
Not Following Through
After attending an event and making new connections, you can’t sit back and wait for those people to reach out to you. Connecting on LinkedIn should be your first step, but it is not the last step. You have to follow through and send an InMail or email every so often, and make the effort to extend invitations for coffee or lunch. Just don’t go overboard. Reach out occasionally but don’t smother a new connection.
Taking Without Giving
Networking is a two-way street. You can’t expect connections to help you out by making introductions or giving you a heads-up on career opportunities if you are not willing to do the same for them. The most successful networkers give far more than they get back in the first few years of building their network. The good news? If you approach the process with a selfless attitude and put in the work, your network will repay you in time.
Networking is an important tool for growing an engineering career, but it takes practice. Mistakes are common, but if you know what to watch out for you can avoid the pitfalls of novice networkers. Another great way to accelerate your career is to work with a professional engineering recruiter. They can help connect you with opportunities in the market you may not otherwise hear about on a traditional job search. If you are an engineer or technology professional in the Southeast searching out new opportunities and challenges for your career, contact the recruiting experts at Selectek today.