Even though most structural engineering tasks are centered on individual efforts and design work, networking between engineers and other stakeholders is very important. Connecting with other structural engineers can open you up to what industry leaders are doing and see if it’s possible to integrate into your workflow. Networking with architects, MEP engineers, civil engineers, construction managers, and other stakeholders gives you a more well-rounded network of people you can rely on for questions and insight. This article will take a look at a few avenues to improve your network as a structural engineer.
Intra and Inter-office Networking
Obviously, the easiest place to start networking would be within your own company. If you work on a team made up of just structural engineers, then the overall breadth of people you would be able to connect with is smaller. Still, make sure to connect with engineers within your team to see what portions of their day-to-day works best for them to see if you can implement something into how you do things. Conversely for interdisciplinary companies, try to focus on networking with collaborators to get a feeling of what their priorities are and what you can do to make their job easier — they might do the same for you next time.
Get started networking on LinkedIn by Following and connecting with us!
For civil and structural engineers alike, there are a plethora of organizations that can be used as great networking tools. These orgs can range from the national level to small groups with a strong local presence. Groups like NCSEA and ASCE have national presence and offer a huge network of members; most of the time there are also local factions or chapters as well. If you are interested in a specific building material or design method, for example post-tension concrete design, smaller professional groups exist that focus entirely on that. A byproduct of belonging to these organizations is learning from industry experts about new products and technologies, which will help keep your skills relevant. Usually, employers are happy to cover any membership dues for their employees because of the potential benefits to the company.
Trade Shows & Meetups
Source: NCSEA Summit
Traditionally, networking is associated with job fairs, trade shows, or anything where a large group of like-minded individuals meet. For structural engineers, trade shows and summits usually go hand in hand with the Professional Societies, since they are usually the ones hosting. These events are usually hosted annually so getting there is the biggest hurdle, but once there, networking with a large variety of stakeholders feels natural because that is the goal of most attendees. Here you can also find vendors of new software or material products to network with. Being connected to these individuals can really help you grasp any new and emerging technologies or methods.
Networking with people within your industry is great, but the overall goal should be to build a network of great people. Volunteering is a great way to contribute to and meet people within your local community. Find a cause that speaks to you and try to find time to commit to volunteer; everyone you meet will feel the same about that cause. The interesting part is meeting people that most likely are in completely different industries and careers. Learning about completely new fields can help you give perspective and you never know, this part of your network may help you in the future at some point.