10 Ways Social Networking Can Impact Your Business & Career As A Civil Engineering Professional

August 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm 10 comments

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

Remember when musings of the Internet was just a fad?  Remember when the compass and slide rule were irreplaceable?  Remember when the Post Office was relevant?   Well, as it turns out, the  Internet is here to stay; if you have a compass and slide rule you just might get your 15 minutes of fame on PBS’ Antiques Road Show; and I can’t recall the last time I paid bill or sent a hand written letter via snail mail. Compass That said, consider yourself forewarned in regards to the utilization of Social Networking sites LinkedIn (44M+ users), Facebook (250M+users) and Twitter (4.5M+ users), among others – don’t be a naysayer, or you will be left in the dust.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you are familiar with, and hopefully active on, one or more of these technologies.  The key is – how can you make sure your company stays relevant by using them effectively?


1. Recruiting Professionals – Did you see the user statistics in the above paragraph? And those are only the three most popular sites among hundreds.  And guess what?  I suspect there are likely hundreds of thousands of members of the civil engineering community  who utilize these tools and share information. They have put themselves “out there.”   By joining these networks yourself and “working the network,” you will find many outstanding professional candidates, both passive and active.  This topic of recruiting on social networks is quite a robust topic and information can easily be found online, in books or through various seminars.  There are plenty of experts in this area so invest a little bit of time and money to catch you and your firm up to speed.

2. Industry News – Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin all have users and user Twitter Logo Headergroups who will be of interest to you.  You will find that ENR, ASCE, Society of Hispanic Engineers, SMPS, etc all have active users and groups on these sites where news bites and press releases are shared regularly. Also, by connecting with other friends and colleagues within the industry you will often read status updates or tweets in regards to local infrastructure news.

3. Relationship Building – Learn what your colleagues, clients, and potential clients are doing; learn their interests; follow their tweets; make logical and profound comments in response to theirs.  You  can get a real sense of their personality, interests, etc that will certainly assist during face-to-face marketing efforts.

4. Marketing/Branding – Develop a Facebook Fan/Group page with blog entries, promotions, press releases, wins, job postings, awards, charity events, etc.;  tweet these same items; develop a compelling corporate profile on LinkedIn and make sure your employees do as well.

5. Recruiting College Students-This is a “no brainer”.  If you want to reach out to the next generation of civil engineers you need to have a strong corporate brand on Facebook and MySpace for sure.  Join the CivilEngineeringCentral.com Fan Page on Facebook!When visiting college campuses for recruiting trips have a couple laptops up and running at your table exhibiting these pages and invite them  to join your pages or groups on line.   Come prepared with business cards that provide the URL’s of your corporate social networking sites.  College students want to work for firms that understand and are avid  users of the web 2.0 technology that they utilize.  85% of college students are active on Facebook, 65% are active on MySpace.  Again, a “no brainer.”

6. Recruiting Boomerangs – How often have you had employees of your firm fly the coup, only to return because the grass was not greener on the other side?  By staying in touch with well respected ex-employees  by Linkedin Logoinviting them to join a group where they will be exposed to all the great news that is occurring with your firm, you are giving yourself a nice advantage above other firms when the time comes that he or she begins to look for a new job.  Firms like URS & Toll Brothers, among others, each have “Alumni” groups on Linkedin.

7. RFP’s – It’s only a matter of time before builders, agencies and architects will be tweeting RFP’s.

8. Professional Growth – By joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or by following specific associations or trainers or presenters on Twitter, you can remain well informed of all of the conferences, seminars, blogs, articles and publications being offered that you find relevant in your career.


10. Ignorance is Bliss.  Do not fall into this trap.  These networks are no longer the wave of the future, they are a mainstay.  As a civil engineering professional, by not jumping on board you will become a relic – and this label is not something you or your firm will want to be labeled as as the demand for talent begins to hit the upswing.

As you can see, I intentionally left a blank space after #9 – what might you suggest to fill in that blank?

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Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, Civil Engineering Issues, Civil Engineering Jobs, Corporate Recruiters, Education, Employee Retention, Fun Stuff, Generation "Y"/Generation "Next", Human Resources, Marketing, Recruiting, The U.S. Economy & Civil Engineering, The Workplace, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. julieandben  |  November 24, 2010 at 10:03 am

    #9 is becoming “Develop a personal brand”. The big 3 (facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) are becoming excellent tools for engineers to share their story online. You might not yet be talking about your firm or talking about yourself, but your competition is. I would love to connect on LinkedIn or Twtter. http://bit.ly/linktoben or http://twitter.com/samecollege

  • […] Networking can also affect the business environment. In this Business article, it gives you 10 reasons why social networking is important to business. Some of the ways […]

  • 3. Jeffrey  |  August 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Hey Satinder – Why reinvent the wheel? Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn are excellent platforms.

  • 4. Satinder S Baweja  |  August 27, 2009 at 9:22 am

    # 9 – Development of a knowledge base that is categorized and can be searched.

    I think the discussion should expand beyond social networks to all Web 2.0 technologies (wiki’s, forums, blogs, ideagoras, etc).

    Milton, what I have found works is creating two accounts on facebook. One for personal and another for business. Also, it would help for groups like ASCE or AIA to create their own professional networks vs. using facebook or linkedin as platforms.


  • 5. fairsnape  |  August 27, 2009 at 6:49 am

    I would add learning, sharing along being inspired and inspiring others as the 9th….

  • 6. Milton Gregory Grew, AIA  |  August 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    As an architect I agree that these social networking sites are a reality. The challenge is keep professional networking somewhat separated from networking with personal friends and family. The line gets blurred very often when I find professional contacts wanting to be more “friends” than I am wanting. This seems particularly tricky with Facebook. I have actually made new clients and truly enhanced my business’s profile by using these sites and technology. The other challenge is trying to decide which networks to be active on and control the amount of time devoted to them.

  • 7. Bryan Sherrieb  |  August 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    #9 – Speed. You no longer have to wait for the next magazine to be published, or for the next professional organization meeting to find out news, ideas, or topics.


    #9 – Green. By networking online, one can reduce their carbon footprint by not having as many mass mailings. Not as many periodicals going to the trash.

    On the down side, the food on the internet (at the house) is not as good as it is at a professional association meeting.

    • 8. aepcentral  |  August 24, 2009 at 8:41 am

      Hey Bryan,

      Thanks for the response! The concept of social networking as being “green” was one I had not considered.


  • 9. hintonhumancapital  |  August 22, 2009 at 12:08 am

    #9 Should be ability to harness collective knowledge. Think about how many possible ideas and solutions could be put together by professionals from around the world.

  • 10. Babette Burdick  |  August 16, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    The most important aspect about social networking is to HAVE A PLAN. Social networking and using social media to build your professional network is not narcissism. This concept is the BIG IDEA that most engineering professionals have to conquer. It is your opportunity to walk your talk. But first, you have to discover what YOU are all about, which involves Personal Branding. BRAND YOU can be best understood by reading Dan Schawbel’s Me 2.0, http://www.personalbrandingblog.com.

    Most engineering professionals, all the way from Gen Y to YES Boomers, need to understand how the Internet can allow them to reach more folks than their local networking breakfast can accomplish. Take a peek at http://blog.salesaerobicsforengineers.com May 2009 post Introduction to Social Networking. LIke Matt reviews, there are a number of venues we can provide to you. However, these are a means to an end, not an end in itself. To achieve the end you desire, you need to understand what you bring to the table and create an effective Personal Branding campaign to get YOU in front of the right audiences and companies.

    Make sense?


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