group photo at 2023 YMLS
The 2023 ASCE Younger Member Leadership Symposium brought in a packed house at ASCE HQ in Reston.

As our lives increasingly function in the virtual space and technology changes the way our work gets done, good old-fashioned human connection has taken on renewed importance.

In fact, person-to-person networking can truly be a career differentiator for you in this digital world.

The problem is, because you’re probably interacting with people face-to-face less than ever, you may be off your game when it comes to networking.

The ASCE Younger Member Leadership Symposium is the antidote. The annual three-day workshop –  hosted by the Committee on Younger Members in August at ASCE’s Reston, Virginia, headquarters – gathered nearly 100 young engineers from around the world to compare notes and learn from other younger members about how to take the next steps in their careers into leadership roles.

“Honestly, it was an eye-opening and influential experience,” said Jade Flansburg, E.I.T., A.M.ASCE, attending from the Eastern Iowa Younger Member Group. “I loved that we discussed emotional intelligence, personal vision, and communication styles. I will revisit this material and continue to reflect on this for the rest of my career.”

And, yes, among the key skills discussed? Strategic networking.

Matthew Jacobson, E.I.T., ENV SP, A.M.ASCE, was an excellent choice to present on strategic networking. Active in the Los Angeles Younger Member Forum and CYM, among several ASCE roles, he’s connected with Society members and industry movers and shakers since his days as a student leader at Cal Poly Pomona.

Here are his five tips to network successfully:

1- Stay mindful of your body language

The way you carry yourself can be just as important as the words you say. Tense posture, jittery hands, darting eyes – these things can stress people out!

2- Listen

Talking is good. Listening intentionally is even better.

3- Don’t monopolize

Respect people’s time. A good networking conversation doesn’t need to take 15 minutes. They might want to talk to other people and other people might want to talk to them.

4- Be prepared

Note who is who; who works where; what people’s titles are. You never want to ask “Now who do you work for again?”

5- Stay authentic

Yes, you’re networking. It’s not the most casual of conversations. But that doesn’t mean it has to be inauthentic. Ask insightful questions. Be specific. Genuinely want to learn more from that person about who they are.

Learn more about other upcoming younger member events on Instagram, including the next Younger Member Leadership Symposium.