You have probably heard about the importance of networking, especially when it’s early in your career, but do you truly understand what it means? As engineers who love the technical world, you may cringe when thinking about having to get to know others in the industry. However, networking isn’t as complicated as you may think. It doesn’t always require “putting yourself out there” and attending networking events every other weekend.
So what’s the point of networking? Simply put, it is creating and maintaining professional relationships. And when you think about how often you interact with people on a regular basis, this isn’t all that hard to wrap your head around. The point of networking is to help others get to know you, like you, and trust you. Helping others in your industry will make them want to return the favor and help you succeed as well. Another added benefit of great networking is that you can earn business for your company because others will know and trust you, and therefore do business with you. You will also find it easier to get your next job once you’re in the market. A vast majority of positions aren’t always posted publicly, so if you let people in your network know you’re looking, they may come to you about interesting positions.
The best way to look at networking is to think about how you can help others in your industry on a regular basis, instead of what you can get from people. Here’s how you can start to become a better networker:
1. Build strong relationships. When networking with others, don’t only focus on work. Strong relationships are built when you discuss people’s interests and hobbies outside of work.
2. Be genuinely interested in others. Make a connection with the person you are talking to, stay engaged, and don’t lose focus during your conversation. One of the worst things you can do when visiting with another person is check your phone or watch. It gives the signal that you’re not fully interested in what he or she has to say.
3. Listen to others completely. Don’t cut people off when you’re talking to them; listen for silence, acknowledge their words, then speak when it’s your turn. When appropriate, repeat the words they said back to them to show you were paying attention.
4. Make people feel valued. Let others know they can count on you as a resource, and put their needs before your own. It will certainly make people remember you.
5. Get involved in professional associations. The group you choose to be involved in doesn’t necessarily have to be engineering related. You can be involved in a local community group or alumni association.
If you’re ready to start networking like a pro, the first thing you need to do is think of up to three people that could help you with your expertise. Think of a small task you could do for those people, and do it. When you show them that you want to give them a hand, they will likely return the favor in the future. Interested in networking with some of our professionals? Visit our Careers page to learn more about great opportunities at Gausman & Moore.