As a professional engineer, you likely understand the importance of networking. However, if you’re simply attending a few events a year and calling your efforts a success, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Today, effective networking includes an online strategy.
Social Networking Is Not a Fad
You might have been able to get away with ignoring social networking five years ago, but today, there is no excuse for getting active online today. Not all social networking is about Gen-Y selfies and celebrity drivel. Professional social networking is a savvy strategy for engineers who want to branch out and advance their careers. Your social network can be a wellspring of information and ideas. You can post a question asking for help, and within minutes have a steady stream of advice to choose from. So, just where should you start?
Begin With LinkedIn
Not every platform will work for every engineer, but the most logical place to begin is with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking platform. Focusing your efforts here will keep you from getting overwhelmed and allow you to really work on building your professional brand.
LinkedIn is also less “social” than other networks, which means you won’t be bombarded by political posts, selfies, snapshots of your nephew’s dinner plate or cat videos. What you will find on LinkedIn are colleagues, peers, clients and thought leaders who can be valuable to your career advancement.
How to Get Started
First, make sure your profile is complete and you have uploaded a recent, professional headshot. LinkedIn provides ample opportunity to elaborate on projects and achievements, allowing for much more detail than a resume. You can create a portfolio, upload presentations and even add video.
Next, review your profile to make sure it includes relevant keywords for your field of engineering. If you want to be found by influencers, recruiters and others, you have to make sure your profile shows up in searches.
Once your profile is complete, it’s time to get active. Start by connecting with people you know. You can search for them directly, or you can allow LinkedIn to find people in your email address book. Then, you can branch out. Commit to spending a little time each week growing your network. One of the most effective ways to build your network is to join groups related to your specific field of engineering, contributing to discussions and making new connections there.
Work With a Recruiter
LinkedIn is a low-pressure, effective way to grow your network, but if you are actively looking for a new job, you’ll need more tools in your toolbox. An effective tool is a professional engineering recruiter who can connect you to opportunities you may not ever find on LinkedIn.