Networking can be simply defined as building relationships, NOT just collecting business cards or contacts. Networking is important because not only will it bring you opportunities, it also creates relationships that you will enjoy throughout your engineering career and life. Regardless of your age and experience level, you should always be networking.
Here are seven strategies that will help you become a better networker:
Build strong lasting relationships – Focus on the personal side of things like people’s interests and hobbies and not just what they are doing in their work.
Be genuinely interested in people – Make a connection with them, stay engaged and don’t lose focus by checking your cellphone; don’t just have a meeting with someone to get something from them.
Listen to others completely and acknowledge them – Do not cut people off, listen for the silence, and acknowledge people by repeating words that they say back to them.
Give people value – Always be a resource to people and put their needs before yours.
Join and get involved in professional associations – Volunteer for a leadership position in a professional association, which will foster connections with other people that are also volunteering.
Join or get involved in community or outside associations – Be involved outside of your discipline, like in a local community group or your alumni association.
Speak in front of an audience as much as possible – Get in front of people, meet the right people that you can build relationships with and grow your network.