Discussion Thread

Importance of Networking

  • 1.  Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-08-2019 09:41 PM

    I would like to start a discussion about networking. Back when I was in college, I learned early that strategic networking is important to help you land internships, learn about available scholarship opportunities, or even can help you score an interview for your first full-time job.  One of the best actions I took as a student was attending events hosted by my local YMF section. Through these events, I was able to meet dozens of civil engineers already in the field and ask them questions like why they chose their specific subdiscipline or advice for studying for the FE exam.

    As an introvert, I still find networking somewhat intimidating. To get more comfortable with networking, I frequently volunteer to help at the registration/nametag table for professional society events because it gives me the opportunity to put a name to a face and maks approaching them later during the event much easier.

    Do you have any networking tips to share? How has networking helped advance your career?



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    Danielle Schroeder EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Associate Engineer
    Pennoni Associates
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 2.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-09-2019 11:06 AM
    Danielle,

    Thanks for starting this thread! I am a firm believer that networking is as important or more than having solid technical skills. Personally, I started to attend career fairs at my school since my freshman year. That allowed me to get to know companies in the area even if I was not ready to get a job there. I met a lot of employers and also helped me polish my resume year after year.

    Something I regret is not being more involved with ASCE as a student. I was very involved with EWB and did not see the benefit of being involved with ASCE (great mistake). After graduation, I became more involved with ASCE and SEI and that has helped me to meet some incredible engineers (including you) along the way. One piece of advice I could share with you is to say "yes" to opportunities even if they seem too "advanced" for you. For instance, I recently joined the SEI Bussiness Practices committee to help elevate the structural engineering profession. I am very passionate about that despite my young age.

    One example that comes to mind started by getting a scholarship to the structures congress this year. That lead to becoming a topic moderator as well as meeting @Stephanie Slocum who is the chair for the Bussiness Practices committee. Being involved as a topic moderator lead to writing a member voices article (see here​) to help international students who want to come to the US. Also, that helped me gain exposure within ASCE and I was asked to write another Member Voice article about my recent trip to Puerto Rico as well as interviews for the Next Step section of the ASCE Civil Engineering magazine.

    All of this starting with a single "yes" to an opportunity. Say yes more often and be involved in your local and national organizations, you will meet some amazing engineers.

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    Luis Duque EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO
    luis@...
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  • 3.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-09-2019 02:00 PM
    I am in college right now, I have also been told Networking is a big thing as well. Turns out it's true. I got an internship at NASA in Florida by networking  and joining groups. I joined LinkedIn as well and that's another way I've been networking. 


    Best Regards,

     

    R&D Technical Specialist

    Sandra Chance





  • 4.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-11-2019 05:08 PM
    Hi Sandra, first congrats on your NASA Internship! You also brought up great point - digital networking through sites like LinkedIn can also help you advance your career.

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    Danielle Schroeder EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Associate Engineer
    Pennoni Associates
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 5.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-11-2019 05:29 PM
    Danielle,

    Thank you. It was an amazing experience!

    Thank you,

    Sandra Chance




  • 6.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-12-2019 08:43 AM
    There is more than one type of networking and I firmly believe that women are much better than men with networking. My daughter is in sales and is in a small group of women in sales that meet periodically to exchange leads, etc. The only negative aspect is if there are two selling the same general type of product.

    There are also chapter meetings, and being on a committee- ASCE or in another organization. Although retired, I remain on an ASCE committee-something you might consider later on in your career. ASCE seems to do a good job with encouraging younger members- at least with my local chapter and The Construction Institute of ASCE.

    I am a retired Civil Engineer in construction and sometimes if there was a morning bid site visit, all of us (competitors) would go out to eat together and talk about anything except company secrets, etc. From this I developed some life long friends from the competitors. We would also visit each other when in their hometown or call each other just to visit. Obviously this does not help your work, but it is fun and gratifying.

    In short, take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people and participate in events where you can. A few years ago, a retired owner of an engineering firm was the speaker at an ASCE chapter meeting. He chastised us as being introverted- giving the example that frequently at a luncheon table, none of the engineers would   even offer to meet their table mates. I have seen this and he was right, so I now make that effort when I can. This can be a problem with many engineers- especially male engineers.

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    James Worrell
    Mostly Retired
    PE, RLS (retired)
    Raleigh NC
    jimworrell@...
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  • 7.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 09-13-2019 10:23 AM

    The absolute best way I've found to network has been to be an active volunteer (strategically, because clearly you can't volunteer for everything). As an introvert, this lends itself to my own strength of working in small groups and the satisfaction I gain in leading and collaborating on projects of all types. So, I volunteer to help in organizations like ASCE for peer networks, and also those where possible clients congregate. For example, when my clients were architects, I volunteered in groups like the local AIA, Habitat for Humanity, CANstruction, etc..  Simply volunteering to distribute name tags at a conference (a wonderful tip I believe I heard from @Danielle Schroeder) can introduce you to a crazy amount of people.

    I used to really struggle at attending live events where I didn't know anyone (once again, introvert tendencies here). With practice and conscious effort, it's now no big deal at all. If you're an introvert struggling with what to do at live events, here's a blog I wrote on 3 tips I've used - that play to my own introverted strengths - that might help you:  https://www.engineersrising.com/blog/introvertnetworkingliveevents

    I also disagree with the idea that one gender is superior to another in networking. For the vast majority of us, and especially introverts, I believe this is purely a "how much have you practiced networking" thing.  My experience has been that minorities that stay in engineering for any length of time recognize early (and engineering retention statistics back up this assertion) that a support system and network is required for survival/sanity. We recognize that this network isn't going to magically appear without deliberate effort. Therefore, we tend to actively cultivate networks early and thus have had more "practice" networking than others. As an example: imagine you worked in an office where no one else had a background, gender, or ethnicity similar to yours. You are committed to your field and want to do well, and you know that you have to cultivate relationships with others to do that. What do you do? You learn how to get to know and create bonds with people dissimilar than you and you seek out other engineers outside of work that might share your experiences. That is exactly what networking is. 



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    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Founder
    Engineers Rising LLC
    www.engineersrising.com
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  • 8.  RE: Importance of Networking

    Posted 10 days ago
    Thank you @Danielle Schroeder for starting this thread. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what networking looks ​like this year. ASCE will be exploring the future of networking during this week's Thursday @ 3 virtual roundtable on Thursday, September 17 at 3pm EDT. I invite you to join us! You can register here.

    If there are any questions you would like us to discuss during the roundtable, please share them here. ​

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    Tirza Austin
    Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
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