10 ways social networking can impact your business and career as a civil engineering professional

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. 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 groups 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. 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 inviting 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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One Comment

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