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?
R&D Technical Specialist
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.