Building your network and working on personal relationships is important to advance your career whatever your job is; engineering is no different. Knowing the right people can help you both progress in your current company and also assist in finding new job opportunities.
NES Global Talent prides itself on our established, talented networks. Read our advice below to find out how engineers can build their professional network both online and offline and ultimately enhance their careers.
Use social networking sites & forums
It’s no secret that the internet has long been a place where like-minded people meet. Likewise, there are many places online, that engineers can use to assist in building their professional network. Although social sites and forums often can’t replace meeting people face-to-face or even speaking on the telephone, they can serve to make that initial connection which can then be developed further.
- LinkedIn – connect with individuals who you have met previously and also relevant professionals in your industry. Also, use the search bar to look for and join relevant groups (e.g. Electrical Engineers World & Civil/Structural Engineering Network).
- Facebook groups provide another platform to discuss engineering topics. They allow members to discuss topics and share updates, as well as asking and answering questions. If you want to use these groups to form a solid professional network, we’d suggest joining more specific groups instead of generic groups. For example, join groups that are close to your geography or maybe a niche skill set that you work in (or you are interested in working in). Power Engineers Only is an example of a niche group that would be good to network in if you’re a power engineer.
- If you’re using Facebook to build your professional network, don’t forget to ensure your profile is set to only show things you want to show, that your picture is professional and that any relevant fields are filled out (e.g. job title).
- Twitter – follow relevant accounts (e.g. Design World & IChemE), comment on posts and speak with like-minded people. Like when using all social networks and forums for professional networking, ensure the views you express on Twitter are professional and avoid controversy.
- Quora - can be used to ask questions related to your industry or just general career questions. You can even reach out to individuals directly to answer your question after searching for their skills and experience. There are various engineering related sections, including Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Manufacturing.
There are also engineering specific social networks and forums.
- Engineering Exchange - 11,000 engineers around the world discuss various topics in a forum specifically designed for engineers.
- CR4 - another forum built specifically for engineers to engage in discussion with each other
- Labroots - a networking and collaboration site for scientists, engineers and technical professionals
- Element 14 - caters for design engineering professionals
Engineers should be active in professional organisations
There are many specific societies, associations and institutions for each engineering discipline in many countries. Each organisation will have different things to offer, but many offer various ways to network with other professionals, through their own events, their own social profiles, and their own forums. For example…
- Institute of Structural Engineers – UK
- The Institution of Engineers – Australia
- The Institution of Engineers – India
- Society of Petroleum Engineers – US
You can find a full list of engineering societies around the world here.
Find networking events, conferences and exhibitions in your local geography
Meeting people face-to-face is still the best way to develop professional relationships. Use Google, industry press, and websites like Eventbrite to find relevant events and conferences near you. When you attend, make sure you don’t skip the networking part and speak to other participants to grow your contact list.
Industry exhibitions also usually include dedicated spaces to network with fellow engineers and often allow you to network with suppliers (which can be just as helpful).
Find local engineering social groups
Various online tools let you search and join groups of people working in engineering that meet face-to-face to discuss various topics or just socialise together. See Meetup.com’s list of engineering groups around the world.
Speak with your colleagues
Many of us forget that we work with a group of people who have plenty of connections and knowledge themselves. Ask them questions and learn from them. Or ask them whether they know other people in your profession that could help with a particular situation or could provide advice.
Take advantage of your alumni network
The university you studied at will offer an alumni service which often includes events and other methods to
reconnect with previous classmates or even make completely new connections in the alumni’s network. Your first port of call is the relevant university’s website, but also join Facebook and LinkedIn alumni groups if your university has set these up (e.g. The University of Melbourne's Facebook Engineering Alumni Page or the Cambridge University Engineering Alumni LinkedIn Group). You can also follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with any events they're organising.
Speak with recruiters
Keeping in contact with recruiters can be beneficial even if you aren’t necessarily actively looking for a new job. Recruiters are knowledgeable about job market conditions, can give advice on what skills are becoming more important, and can provide direction to your career. Of course, they can also advise on new engineering jobs that may be a good fit if you’re open to opportunities.
NES constantly have new and exciting opportunities become available every day. You can take advantage of these opportunities by visiting the Jobs page or registering and uploading your CV on our website.