Networking with Generation Next
By Matt Barcus
Moseying on up to a bar stool and talking shop with a potential client over a few drinks. Sharing the fairway at the local country club with a couple of high profile public sector clients to pick their brains as to who they might recommend as viable candidate for the VP slot that just came available in your firm. These always have been and always will be the best ways of networking at a high level with your Baby Boomer peers. As we all know, your Baby Boomer peers are retiring and people from a new generation are moving up. My question is, how current are your networking skills to the younger generation of engineers? How can you equip your people to get in touch with this generation of students and junior engineering professionals who are internet savvy and using social networking websites like MySpace.com and Facebook.com? After a few years out in the real world they transition into more professional oriented networks liked LinkedIn.com. If this is all a foreign language to you, hit the books (or at least the websites) for Social Networking Websites 101.
Assuming that you have at least a vague understanding of what I am talking about, do you know that on both MySpace.com and Facebook.com you can find different groups like ASCE, and ASCE student sections? Did you know that schools like Syracuse University and Virginia Tech have their own MySpace page specifically for their Schools of Architecture? A company website is great, but you need to expand your exposure to the tech savvy potential hires of today. It is easy to develop a MySpace.com or Facebook.com page that you can promote within the trade associations mentioned above, and many others as well. You can even start your own group (what a great way to generate loyalty and name recognition!). Post jobs, announce big project wins, discuss market conditions, highlight current projects and update it once a month. When your firm attends University career fairs make sure you have a couple laptops at your table where students can see that you are current and that you understand their generation, they will be impressed as you flash them your MySpace.com page.
LinkedIn.com is the professional version of MySpace.com and Facebook.com, and a natural transition for regular users of those sites. People love to see their accomplishments and bios on the internet. Explore different groups or start your own. Search for potential candidates by plugging in your competitors’ names or keyword phrases like “civil engineering” or “environmental planner” and see the results. In future articles, I will discuss what you need to do with that information you gather and how you may approach the people you “meet” through online social networking.
Matt Barcus is President of Precision Executive Search, Inc., a Pottstown, PA-based executive search firm specializing in the civil engineering community. Matt is also Managing Partner of CivilEngineeringCentral.com. He may be reached at 610.705.4942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.