Top networking tips for student civil engineers, quantity surveyors and construction managers – TARGETjobs

Networking can make your search for graduate jobs and internships easier – it’s a skill that construction professionals use all the time.
Follow up with an email or LinkedIn message.
Networking tips and tricks: Be confident | Vital research | Build a network | Networking at virtual events | Online networking | Maintaining relationships
targetjobs frequently asks graduates working in the construction industry about how they started their careers and ‘via networking’ is the increasingly common answer. Others say they wish they’d networked more while at university. Here are a few stories of successful networking:
Networking isn’t about using someone as a way into a job – it’s about creating an ongoing relationship with people as you go through your career. You will want to start networking not by asking people directly whether they know of any vacancies, but by asking them for careers advice or their opinion on the industry.
Be confident when asking. You might feel that you haven’t much to offer your contacts now, but in time you will have. Remember, too, that people tend to be flattered when their advice is sought and when interest is taken in them as a person.
Before approaching a professional, learn what you can about the work they do and who they work for. Also read widely about relevant developments and current news topics affecting the news industry. Doing this will allow you to speak or write to contacts about appropriate topics and give you ideas for thought-provoking questions, ensuring that you remain memorable.
Note: don’t come across as a stalker. Keep your research to what is available on their LinkedIn profile, their employer’s website or their contributions to any industry publications. Stay away from the personal!
’I haven’t got a network – I haven’t got family in the industry or work experience’ is something targetjobs often hears from students. But you actually do have the makings of one. Your network can be found through:
Of course, if you have done work experience in the industry, keep in contact with your line manager and any colleagues you get on well with. And if you don’t have any relatives or family friends in the industry, it’s still worth chatting to them about your job hopes. You never know whom they might know.
The good news is that a number of networking and careers events are still going ahead in the wake of coronavirus. They haven’t been cancelled – they have just moved on to virtual platforms So, you will still have opportunities to network with professionals and/or graduate recruiters at:
Before you ‘attend’ an event, see if you can gain an attendees’ list so that you can do some research.
Tips and tricks for effective networking include…
Keep your introduction simple. If you are talking into a camera, act as you would in person: maintain eye contact, smile and say something like ‘Hello, I’m Jane Smith and in my penultimate year of a civil engineering degree at Smith University.’ If you will be typing into a message box, have your similar introduction ready so that you can copy and paste it across.
If you are an introvert or not good with lots of screen time focus on one person at a time and try to give yourself breaks from the screen..
Be ready to save and log contact details – but only if they are offered. The event organiser may ask permission to share people’s contact details, but it’s likely that not everyone will be comfortable with this, so it is best approaching this on a one-to-one basis.
Follow up with an email or LinkedIn communication, if you have contact details. Quite promptly afterwards – the following day is best – get in contact with the professionals you meet to say how much you enjoyed meeting them, to ask for further advice or to continue the conversation, or to gently remind them if they had promised to send information to you or similar.
Have good opening topics of conversation. These will partly be decided by your research but, depending on the context and the nature of the event, non-contentious opening questions include:
When targetjobs’ sister publication, the UK 300 2020/21 surveyed students interested in construction, civil engineering and surveying careers, it found that a massive 81% of students used LinkedIn for careers purposes – but are they (and you) using it effectively?
LinkedIn is essentially both an online forum of CVs and a way to contact recruiters and professionals. The first step is to create a compelling personal profile .
The second step is to connect with industry professionals and recruiters and to join discussions by professional institutions.
‘To get my work experience placements, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn,’ says Ashley Dunsmore, a quantity surveyor at Kier. ‘I searched for “surveyors”, “commercial directors”, “construction in Dundee and Glasgow” and for anyone connected with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Then I would message them to ask for their advice and whether they knew of anybody offering work experience. ‘ It was successful: ‘Muirfield Contracts actually contacted me to ask if I was interested in a placement. The Muirfield recruiter had asked one of my contacts whether they could recommend a placement student and they’d put my name forward,’ she recalls.
If you are sending a connecting message, don’t use the standard one. Write a short, personal one. For example, if you are connecting with a graduate employee who is an alumnus of your university, you could introduce yourself, say that they have followed the career path that you are interested in and ask if you could catch up with them about how they are finding it.
Gain more advice on how to use LinkedIn to network and build your brand .
Keep in regular contact: remember, it’s an ongoing relationship so drop them a line periodically to say hello, update them on what you’re doing and to ask about what they are up to. Make sure you get the amount of contact right: you might want to send a catch-up email every few months.
Oh, and don’t forget to say thank you! Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
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