Before I give you the advice I want to share in this post, let me qualify it for you.
The strategy I’m going to share is not something I came up with myself, but I have had success using it. Between hosting the the Civil Engineering Podcast and working on the book I’m writing for ASCE on how to become a seller-doer, I have talked with almost 100 civil engineering leaders. I also run an online workshop called the Engineering Management Accelerator, so I’ve been able to verify that this strategy works with some of the most motivated up-and-coming engineering managers in the world.
So what is this career-boosting strategy I am referring to?
Simple. Join and get active in professional associations. When I say “active,” I mean taking on a leadership role at any level.
You might be saying to yourself, “That’s all he wanted to tell me?” I know, it sounds too simple to be such a powerful strategy, but it works.
Many civil engineers I know either wait too long to join a professional association, or they join, but they don’t volunteer for a leadership position. Successful civil engineers always tell me they developed their speaking abilities, their confidence, and their network, by taking on leadership roles in professional associations.
I know what you’re thinking – “I don’t have time to take on more responsibilities.” Well, I am here to tell you that, actually, you can’t afford not to.
10 benefits that you can reap from a leadership role in a professional association
• Work on and improve your management skills in some capacity
• Improve your communication skills by collaborating with other volunteers
• Become more known in your industry and community by being more visible
• Build a network of other motivated professionals who are also volunteering
• Make friends (I know this sounds like something you would focus on in elementary school, but building friendships is satisfying throughout life)
• Gain confidence by speaking in front of groups of people
• Show your company that you are a leader
• Drive positive change and growth in your field through your volunteer work
• Improve your productivity skills, because you’ll have to, in order to fit this work in
• Open yourself up to an unlimited amount of career opportunities
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. So why don’t you do it right now? Go ahead, write an email to your local society leader and tell them you’d like to get involved at a leadership level.
If you still have doubts, just keep reading the 10 points above until you’re ready.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Anthony Fasano, P.E., M.ASCE, is the founder of the Engineering Career Coach website, which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast, and he is the author of a bestselling book for engineers, Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills by clicking here.
Anthony has also recently started the Engineering Management Accelerator to help engineers become more entrepreneurial: www.EngineerToManager.com.
I LOVE this advice. So true… I am going to check out that online workshop!
The top paying Civil Engineering positions (those at the leadership level) require several key attributes in addition to being a good Engineer and Project Manager:
1) Having the ability to develop relationships and win new business
2) Lead and manage people
It’s one thing to be a good engineer, but as an engineer goes further up the ladder, he/she will need to develop business acumen. Getting active in Professional Associations is a great start. Another recommendation I would make is to work on leadership development through training programs and books. Daniel Goleman’s Emotional and Social Intelligence books are great places to start.
Lake it or not, running a business sector within a Civil Engineering firm, requires the ability to build people relationships internally and externally. And having a high EQ is essential for anyone who wants upward mobility.