I like to meet new people. I like to learn from them. I like to learn about them. Yet, I hate networking events.
I feel anxious at networking events. Usually, I just end up talking to one person and fail to mingle. I don’t seem to get how people use them correctly or benefit from attending them.
Rationally, I understand how networking expands the number of people you know. I know it’s great to get out of my comfort zone and do things like that. However, I always try avoid them.
I don’t think these events are bad or fake, I just value my downtime a lot and the idea of spending an evening or a day getting to know more people doesn’t add up when it’s ambiguous who I may meet and what we might discuss.
Networking: Wide or Deep?
Instead, I choose to spend my time trying to reinforce the relationships I already have. I keep in touch with people over LinkedIn, text, or email; perhaps grab a beer or coffee with people. It’s deliberate. My approach isn’t to focus too much on widening my network. My goal is to build deeper connections with those I already know.
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
Networking is work. Networking events are good if you know your purpose for being there and you act accordingly. For networking events to be useful, there needs to be a purpose, because people bond more in pursuit of executing a high stakes project together. Useful bonds are forged working together, not making small talk. Focus on those relationships… It might be way more useful.
Skellig was started in 2010 with a very simple idea: try to take care of engineers.
I always wanted to start and grow a company. I spotted my opportunity to begin when I saw how some fellow engineers and myself felt like we weren’t empowered to help solve engineering problems. Instead, we were expected to fall in line, do what we were told, and not to ask questions about why things are the way they are. “Be thankful to have a job” seemed to be the maxim.
I remember reading the following quote from Howard Schultz before I read his book, Onward:
“You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed your employee’s expectation of management.” -Howard Schultz
I don’t think we’ve cracked the code and done everything well in the eyes of everyone. However, coming back to that quote years later, what I have learned is >don’t try to be all things to all people. Figure out who you are and what you stand for.
The best you can do is to explain your vision for the future. Be as honest as you can about it. This is the best way to let people who might be better off in another company make that choice for themselves. More importantly, it’s the only way to cement a team around a common goal.
I have big plans for Skellig. I want to see it empower engineers to be the best professionals they can be. My role as leader is to build them a stage to perform on.
In any venture find the right people who believe what you believe. Then figure out how to exceed their expectations. Onward!
We all make mistakes. As engineers, failure as part of the design and development process is OK and should be encouraged.
Good testing catches issues. I’m referring to the type of failure that comes from trying to do things better. Never ever be afraid to try to improve the way something works. EVER!
As engineers, its OK to make mistakes. Its great to make mistakes. That means you are learning. It means you are growing. It means some decisions are getting made.
As engineers on a new design project, make choices. Do your best.
There is nothing as useless as a group waffling on decisions. That makes real failure.
Real failure that ends up hurting someone is terrible. In our industry, real failure usually happens when there is apathy on design decisions. Lack of caring in doing things right.
Think through your design. Test it thoroughly. CARE deeply about what you do. CARE deeply that you’ve thought through every scenario.
Massive engineering failures like a plane crash or a bridge collapse usually result from multiple points of failure and neglect. Not from someone testing something new in the spirit of improvement.
DON’T be afraid to make mistakes.