BIMBeing: The Journey #8
#8 – Get connected…
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
For anybody in the industry, whether it’s your first week or your 25th year, it’s important to know what’s happening around you. There is an absolute wealth of information being shared on a daily basis, so get involved. This is particularly important for those with less experience; not only do you need to expand your beginners knowledge but you’re starting out with a very small network of industry contacts, so you need to put in the effort to grow your network. I’m a big fan of knowledge, however the old saying “it’s not what you know…” can still have some relevance too.
Being in the digital age that we are the first and most obvious place to look for people sharing information are the social media outlets. Social media is not only for self-indulged ‘vloggers’ and unemployed ‘travel experts’, it’s also an excellent platform for keeping pace with what’s happening in the industry. It’s typically less formal than other forms of press and generally speaking people are more willing to participate on the social platforms. Whether that be a simple ‘Like’ or a friendly debate in the comments it’s usually good when people start to interact with one another. Quite often you’ll find that information being batted around in the comments may be more useful and/or interesting than the original post or article itself.
- LinkedIn – This is an excellent platform for several reasons. If you think of social media platforms being on a scale of professionalism then LinkedIn would be right at the top end; the other end would probably be the drunken antics on Snapchat, not so useful. For me it’s important for any professional to have a LinkedIn page. Think of it like a ‘super CV’, an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and knowledge whilst networking with your peers. Networking is the key word here; use this platform to grow your ‘network’, follow companies and individuals that not only interest you but are relevant to your line of work. The more people you connect with and the more you get involved with comments and article sharing the greater benefit you’ll see. From general construction gossip to the latest job offerings, LinkedIn really does have it all. Small warning: rogue recruiters will message you, constantly – be cautious as not everything being offered is genuine! You’ll see manufactured job roles and falsely inflated salaries in your inbox, typically on a weekly basis, which are designed to get you talking and get you signed up to the recruiters system. Some offers will still be genuine though so you need to keep your eyes peeled, do your homework before jumping at any ‘golden carrots’ thrown into your DM’s and just be careful who you share your details with – It’s still a great platform.
- Twitter – Less formal, still useful. On that scale of professionalism Twitter is probably sat somewhere in the middle. You’ll find a good mix of relevant industry content conveniently shared in compact ‘tweets’ with the addition of the usual social media junk that we all secretly like to look at from time to time <insert animal video here>. Again it’s about the network you choose to build; following industry peers and relevant companies/media outlets is recommended and will provide you with a quick and easy way to see what’s going on. Another small caution here – if you spend your weekends trolling random B-list celebrities then you need to think about how that may look to the network of professionals, peers and colleagues that you’re trying to build. My advice? If you’re building a professional network avoid anything that would be considered obviously unprofessional – keep it PG.
As good as social media is it’s not the only source of information out there, and it’s also not the most reliable. Consider signing up directly to some of the many industry media outlets available, whether that be the mailing list of a relevant Chartered Institute or a free construction magazine, there are plenty of options to choose from. Try not to overdo it as this generally has the opposite effect; rather then being more informed you tend to become fed-up of constant emails and will start ignoring them altogether, which is clearly counterproductive.
As I’ve mentioned before these posts are 100% impartial. I’ve listed a few media outlets below that I’ve found useful throughout my time in industry; I’m not endorsing them as the best and they are certainly not the only thing on offer. A quick session on google will expose you to many more options, but here’s a short list anyway.
- Construction News. One of the biggest and in my opinion one of the more reliable sources of information. 1-2 emails per day with the current headlines from new major projects to industry trends, it’s a very valuable resource. Unfortunately it’s not free! You’ll have to put your hand in your pocket if you want to subscribe but first check if your employer has a corporate membership that allows you access (or try and persuade them to get one if they don’t!)
- Specification Online. There are several branches of the ‘Specification’ brand including Housing Specification, Building Specification and Specification Magazine. This is particularly useful if you are in a position that requires you to specify products either as a client or as a consultant/designer/contractor. This one is free and there are several options for receiving the content, both online and hard print magazines to your door. If possible use the online version and steer clear of the hard print; we’re all heading in the digital direction and should be avoiding unnecessary use of materials and transport where we can.
- Modern Building Services. The clue is again in the name but in case you missed it, this one is aimed at building services news. Another freebie with options to view content online or with magazines on your doorstep. A good mix of new technologies and product reviews as well as more general articles on the industry as a whole.
- Johnson BIM and DBE Careers! I said I was impartial, and I wasn’t lying, but I of course have to give a nod to the hosts of the fine content that you’re currently reading. Sign up to the mailing lists (free of course) for the latest BIM-centric industry news, trends, expert opinions and salary guides. And obviously for me as well, Mr Smith, your BIM Being.
- Institutes and Governing Bodies. Final one on the list is less specific and really needs to be driven by you. If you have an interest or an affiliation to a chartered institute then it’s a particularly good idea to keep pace with what they’re doing (they all have mailing list options). Another good idea is registering for updates with governing bodies and information/research/public information outlets that may be relevant such as the British Standards Institute and the Centre for Digital Built Britain. These will give you access to the key updates and current affairs ensuring you don’t miss out on the latest changes in industry. From time to time they’ll also offer opportunities to collaborate on research and other projects which are a fantastic opportunity to continue growing your network. Other more specific options would include suppliers and software vendors such as the Autodesk University resource. This is again free and provides a huge amount of information that can support and inform your everyday work, particularly relevant if you use Autodesk software.
That’s a small catch from a very large pond of resources. The message really is that you need to get connected and take an interest in not only your career but in the wider environment in which you are working. It will provide you with a much more rounded knowledge than if you stay sheltered behind your 9-5 day job and it may even expose you to some great new opportunities as well. Most importantly you’ll start to build a network of extended ‘colleagues’, allowing you to share your information and experiences whilst receiving that of others. You’ll find that you’ve got a platform to ask topical questions to people that will not only be able to answer but will actually enjoy a discussion about it too. We haven’t evolved to be insular beings, we’re social creatures that thrive when collaborating with others which is just as important professionally as it is socially.
Did I miss some really important sources? Is there something specific that should be mentioned? Scroll down to tet me know in the comments.