Ever since you started your engineering job you’ve been focused on learning the technology and honing your skills.
On learning the job and getting it done efficiently and effectively.
After all you’re trying to make a go as an engineer. And figuring out how you can make this all work for your career.
And among all this determination you’ve forgotten about the people side.
Why People are a Key to Your Successful Engineering Career
You haven’t put as much emphasis on the human relationships. They seem secondary.
Either because the technology side is more important or because you want to show that you can go it alone.
When in fact people are the key to your success.
It’s people who make things happen in the organization. And people who make things happen for you in your engineering career.
It’s so easy to forget that. You’re so focused on doing it all. And doing it all yourself.
But you can’t do it all alone. You need people to help you.
This is a very simple idea that many engineers neglect. It was certainly one of the shortfalls in my own career.
Tapping into people resources will definitely boost your career. It’s just as important as – if not more important than – learning the technology.
You never know when or how your people connections will pan out. But I guarantee that many will.
Your career experience will be greatly enhanced because:
- People will connect you to other people and to new opportunities
- You’ll gain more visibility and recognition
- You’ll stay more up-to-date on the organization and the big picture
- And thus overall your professional growth will excel.
Beyond simply learning who people are, there are a number of ways you can draw on these relationships for a much more impactful career.
Here are 6 ways to do that:
Tips on Interacting with People for a More Impactful Engineering Career
- Don’t just meet – connect.
You’ve met a lot of people through your job. But how many of them have you really connected with?
Go beyond just an introduction. As you meet people, find the commonalities. Find the interest areas where you can make more of a connection.
Think about how you can help support each other. How they can benefit from your expertise and vice versa.
Then offer to assist them in their work and don’t be afraid to ask for their assistance. And check in often to stay connected.
- Seek out others rather than waiting for them to find you.
Don’t expect that everyone knows about you and your work. Don’t expect that people know they need to connect with you.
Instead take the initiative. Seek out teammates, allies and collaborators.
Leverage the many ways to find people, like:
- Approaching individuals directly
- Attending events, including networking and social events
- Going where the groups are that align with you, including conferences and interest groups meet-ups.
- Be strategic with your connections.
Seek out people who can help you. Approach people you admire. People who do work you want to do. People who have power and leverage. People you can learn from or collaborate with.
Find the experts whose knowledge you can draw on. Find others interested in your project, technology or philosophy. Those who can be resource providers, supporters and stakeholders.
- Have your career message ready.
People don’t know about you unless you tell them. And the more knowledge and information you exchange, the stronger the connection.
Practice your career message and share it. So that others can help you reach your goals.
Also there’s a thing called reticence bias. It’s the mistaken belief that you’ll seem nicer and make a better impression if you listen more and talk less.
Don’t fall for that.
In reality there should be more of an equal exchange to build a stronger connection. Share your ideas and tell people about your work.
- Connect with the right people.
It’s important to make sure you have connections and you’re not working in isolation.
But you also wanna make sure you’re not hanging with people who are dragging you down.
Spend your time with positive, energetic people who appreciate you for who you are. People who value your work, your ideas, and your self-expression.
- Make some formal connections.
Even if you’re more comfortable with informal connections, it’s good to establish some formal ones.
For example, find mentors, sponsors, coaches and advisers. These tend to be higher-level people who can help you get ahead in your career.
Be willing to set up meetings with them on a specific schedule. In addition to helping you with individual goals, they can assist with upward mobility and navigating your career journey.
Every Connection Opens Doors in Your Engineering Career
It’s good to have a strategy for connecting. But it doesn’t have to be totally structured or all planned out.
Start somewhere. Keep at it and your connections will expand.
The point is to include the people side in your every-day engineering career experience. Know that it’s just as important as the technical side.
Because you can’t succeed in your engineering career without people. Every connection opens doors and plants seeds – now or in the future.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast let’s talk about being a mentor – and the benefits you haven’t thought about before. Be sure to tune in for Episode 114.