Networking, or as I like to refer to it, building relationships, is critical to your success as an engineer, because a strong professional network can yield opportunities for you throughout your engineering career.
Unfortunately, many engineers are fearful of networking for many reasons—two reasons being no one ever teaches engineers how to network, and engineers are typically more on the introverted side.
In this specific podcast session, I help a young engineer overcome her fears around networking. The key points that I outlined with this young engineer are as follows:
· If you are worried about losing billable time to networking, discuss this issue with your supervisor and ask if they would allow you to spend a few hours each week networking and building relationships. Note that these relationships may end up being valuable to the company as you progress in your career.
· Remind yourself often that networking is a positive thing for both you and your family.
· If you are worried about doing too much networking or even talking with coworkers in theoffice, try to go out to lunch or after-work socials with your coworkers to build these relationships in a more comfortable atmosphere.
· Consider joining the nonprofit organization Toastmasters International, which will help you build your confidence through public speaking and presenting activities. Your confidence is critical to your ability to network effectively.
· When trying to initiate a conversation with others, start off by asking the other person to talk about themselves. This will make the other person feel comfortable, because the easiest topic to talk about is always yourself. Ask them questions that will get them talking (examples are provided in the show).
· Once you feel more comfortable in these conversations, then you can start to talk more about yourself and open up to others.
Taking the steps above should get you on track to improving your networking skills and starting to build strong relationships that will yield opportunities in your engineering career.