How to Network Effectively as a Civil Engineer

Networking as a civil engineer, especially as an introvert is not an easy thing, but did you know that whether you are an extrovert or introvert civil engineer, you can network effectively? If you want to become good at business development and network effectively, you are in the right place at the right time.

In this article, you will learn three actions that you can take to network and build relationships more effectively as a civil engineer, even if you are an introvert. If you look up the word “Introvert” in the dictionary, it means a shy person. Most engineers are labeled as introverts because engineers are analytical, technical and deal with details.

Why Should You Network Effectively As A Civil Engineer?

Being effective at networking is important especially in the private sector because as civil engineers progress in their career, their company expects them to start to build relationships and bring in new businesses and revenue for the firm. If you can’t do that, it can become a barrier to advancement in your career in the private consulting world.

If you are also in the public sector as a civil engineer, building relationships is a skill that can be good wherever you work. Remember, you are still dealing with other engineers if you are in the public sector. You never know when you might leave the public sector for the private sector and then have to do the networking relationship and business development.

How To Network Effectively As A Civil Engineer – Even As An Introvert

There are three ways you can network effectively as a civil engineer. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you can start building relationships with people and network more effectively after reading these three ways of networking.

1. Start To Build Relationships With The People That You Already Know

Sometimes, what happens in term of networking whether you’re an introvert or not is we are fearful because we think about the idea of having to go out and network with people that we don’t know. That’s scary in the sense that as an experienced engineer, when you go to a networking or professional association event, you have to go up to someone you barely know and start speaking with them or networking with them.

To warm yourself up for networking, identify contacts that you already know but don’t get to talk to or communicate with that much. It might be your college roommate or a couple of people in your local professional association chapter that you know, but you’d like to get to know more. You might want to start by calling them to see if they want to grab lunch one day.

Also, if you see them at any association meeting, make it a point to go over and chat with them. By focusing on the people that you already know, it is a warmer approach. It is more comfortable for you and it will allow you to practice your networking skill.

If you really want to take action on this, make a list of 5-10 people that you know by name, people that you have met a few times and people you know but don’t really talk with.

Think of one thing that you can do to start to get to know them better. It might be attending a specific event you know they will be at or calling them and just say hello and chatting up. It may also be shooting them an email and asking them if they’d be interested in grabbing a cup of coffee together.

Whatever the case may be, reach out to those people and that will help you to warm up in terms of networking, even as an introvert.

2. Join Toastmasters To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Improving your public speaking skills directly correlates to your confidence, which correlates to your ability to network and build relationships. Toastmasters International is a global nonprofit educational organization that has clubs worldwide and the purpose of Toastmasters is to promote communication and public speaking skills.

Most people that go to Toastmasters are going because they want to become better speakers. As a civil engineer, you may have to give a lot of presentations for work and by the way a lot of times. It is a critical component of a successful civil engineering career.

Whether you’re giving presentations for project approvals or you’re trying to get funding or you have a meeting with prospective clients to pitch a proposal, this will help you in that regard. What Toastmasters does is put you up in front of a room and makes you speak and communicate with people. Doing that builds confidence and when you go out to network, especially if you are a shy introverted person, you need confidence because that’s what can push you over the shyness.

Joining Toastmasters, going through the initial ten speeches and doing the things that Toastmasters asks you to do in a positive way and supportive atmosphere will help you tremendously to be able to network and build more relationships.

 Two things make Toastmasters work.

  1. Accountability: They give you a book with ten speeches. As engineers, we’ve got a checklist that we can go through. Your first speech is like an introductory speech about yourself for a couple of minutes
  2. A supportive atmosphere: All of the people in the room are also working on improving their public speaking skills so it feels safe. It feels like you know he or she sitting down there is in the same position as you. They’re not professional speakers. All civil engineers that I recommended to join Toastmasters and did join it have seen big progressions in their career because of their activity in Toastmasters.

3. Utilize Predetermined Conversation Starters When You Go To Networking Events

I know this may sound a little over the top, it’s really not. Just take a piece of paper, sketch out five to ten conversation starter questions like, tell me about your current job position or how did you get to the company you work for or how long have you been a member of this society and what are some of the positions you’ve held.

Make a list of questions that you can use and go over them the day before and by doing that, it’s going to put you at ease. It’s going to give you some more confidence and the kind of those words at the forefront of your mind. So when you get into the conversation, instead of locking up into your nervous, shy shell, you’ll have things on the tip of your tongue that you can say to start the conversations.

 At the end of the day, conversations are really what drive networking. However, if you don’t know how to start those conversations and get the ball rolling, then it will be difficult for you to calm down at the moment and have that back and forth flow and that’s the one thing just to remember.

Overall, you just really need to consider networking as building relationships – that’s what I tell all engineers. When you think of networking as a complex, intricate thing, that causes you to go places, meet people and use LinkedIn, a whole bunch, just focus on building relationships.

If you focus on building relationships, you will become a successful networker and you will yield so many opportunities from the network that you build.

As a civil engineer, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you have to develop your communication skills. Using the three methods I have discussed in this article, you can develop conversation starters that you can use at your next networking event. If you want to network effectively as a civil engineer, even if you are an introvert, you have to try the three methods explained above.

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Joe Sturtevant
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