5 Tips to Stay Informed on Construction News and Industry Updates

For a structural engineer working on multiple projects in various stages of design and construction, it can be challenging to keep up to date on the latest industry trends. However, many of us in the construction industry enjoy learning about new construction techniques and unique projects. Being educated about new technology and design tools can also increase efficiency in the office.

To make it easier to catch up on pertinent industry news, we are sharing our top five tips and shortcuts.

1. Make Time to Stay Informed

Blocking off time on your calendar will enable you to catch up on industry news.

Make sure you block off some time on your calendar each week to read up on construction news. Pick a consistent day and time (if possible) that is usually a little slower and less likely to be booked with meetings. At our office, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons tend to be the best times.

2. Subscribe to Industry Newsletters

After you block off time on your calendar, the next step is to subscribe to a few construction industry newsletters. Depending on the newsletter, you can sign up for a hard copy or have them delivered electronically to your inbox. Here are some great construction industry newsletters to get you started:

  • Structural Engineers Association Newsletters: If you haven’t signed up for your local city or state SEA newsletter, you should start here. Many structural engineering association chapters have newsletters. For example, the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California has a monthly online newsletter. The state of Texas offers an online quarterly journal, and a few local chapters, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, have their own newsletters. With a quick Google search, you can find one in your area.
  • ICC eNews: Subscribe to the International Code Council’s weekly digital newsletter for ICC news, programs and industry events.
  • Civil + Structural Engineer e-News: Sign up on the home page of their website.
  • Hanley Wood newsletters: You can choose from more than 30 different online industry newsletters focused on residential construction and remodeling, or commercial design and construction.
  • Structural Report® newsletter: Subscribe to this quarterly print and online newsletter for structural engineers and architects that provides industry and building safety news and Simpson Strong-Tie product information.
  • Strong-Tie News: For a quick read, sign up for our monthly company newsletter sent via email. The e-news features new products and software, literature, videos, industry news and training events.
  • Concrete News: If you are involved in concrete construction and repair, this triannual print and digital newsletter has articles on the latest code changes, industry news and Simpson Strong-Tie product solutions.

3. Attend a Technical Webinar

Webinars are an easy way to stay connected to your profession and the construction industry while learning new things. As an added bonus, some webinars offer CEUs or PDH credits so you can stay current with professional development requirements. Click here to find out our top three reasons why you should attend webinars.

Here is a list of organizations that offer webinars that many of our engineers attend:

 4. Get Out to a Live Training Event

There are many courses devoted to improving building standards and the overall safety of structures. . We provide hundreds of classes to engineers, architects, builders and code officials each year, so make sure to sign up for a workshop in your area or to try one of our online courses.

Don’t forget to attend technical conferences, too. The Structural Engineering Institute (part of ASCE) has multiple conferences throughout the year that help you earn CEU and PDH credits. The American Wood Council has an event calendar with live trainings and webinars on hot topics in the industry, also.

 5. Talk with Other Structural Engineers

It’s so easy to take this tip for granted. We sometimes forget that the greatest asset and resource we have are our colleagues. At Simpson Strong-Tie, we offer “lunch and learn” sessions where different departments share initiatives that affect the business. If you work in an engineering firm with different specialties, a lunch-and-learn session is an easy way for everyone to find out about a new project or design challenge.

Another great way to connect with fellow structural engineers is to take part in networking events with structural engineering organizations. Here are some to look into:

There are also several professional LinkedIn groups, like this one, that provide not only educational content, but also a way for you to ask questions and hear the thoughts and opinions of your peers.

These are a few tips to get you started, but there are myriad resources to help you stay informed, including traditional trade magazines, industry blogs and social media sites. Simpson Strong-Tie is always here to help, as well. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to learn about industry news and our latest products and resources.

 

Facebook Tips for Structural Engineers

facebook-logoIn our last social media–related blog post, I shared the Top 5 LinkedIn Groups to Follow for Structural Engineers. Following groups on LinkedIn allows you to share content, post or view job openings, network and help establish yourself as a key opinion leader in your industry. But what about critical design questions or help? How do you deal with office dynamics or a difficult client as a structural engineer?

LinkedIn groups may assist with questions like these, but there are other social media platforms that might make it easier to have a more in-depth discussion about issues that you face. While LinkedIn is certainly an important social media platform for professionals such as structural engineers, it is not the largest social media platform. That title goes to the social media giant Facebook. Facebook has the social advantage of engaging more than 1.7 billion active users.

You are probably using Facebook already for personal social networking. However, there are some professional applications for structural engineers on Facebook that you may not have heard about. Here are some Facebook tips for structural engineers that you can use to jumpstart your professional social media arsenal:

Follow Industry-Related Pages

There are a variety of pages that you can follow on Facebook to give you an idea of what is happening in the industry. Following and engaging with pages like Structural Engineering World for design inspiration or Civil + Structural Engineer magazine for project management ideas allows you to have a more professionally focused newsfeed around content that matters to you (while still allowing time for cat memes and Buzzfeed quizzes if you want those, too). One useful page for engineers is the Autodesk Revit page, because it has things like tips on how to share large BIM files.

Join Structural Engineering Groups

Groups are a great way to connect with other Facebook users. As a structural engineer, you are bound to come across an issue that you would like some advice on. By joining a group of other structural engineers, you can ask design questions, questions about calculations and get tips on the best tools for your profession. I would ask your colleagues which groups they recommend joining.

Jumpstart Your Job Search

If you are looking for a new position, I am sure that you already know about LinkedIn. But did you know that there are things like the Career Center App on Facebook pages like the ASCE? The app works for employers looking to hire, too!

Do you have Facebook tips that would you recommend for structural engineer? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 LinkedIn Groups to Follow for Structural Engineers

MacBook Pro Retina with LinkedIn home page on the screen

A while back, we posted about how structural engineers can use social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We discussed how structural engineers can use LinkedIn as a tool to find out more about industry news. While that is one way to use LinkedIn, another way to get even closer to the pulse of your industry is to join industry-specific LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn groups are places within LinkedIn that allow professionals to share content, post or view job openings, network, and help establish key opinion leaders in a particular industry.

If you are new to LinkedIn, it can be challenging to find all of the LinkedIn groups that you may want to join. We compiled a list of structural engineering LinkedIn groups that can help you get started:

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE): This group was initially formed to allow networking between engineers. It has now grown to over 200,000 members and includes other professionals who work in the industry. Since this is a large group, there are more focused sub-groups that you can also join. We recommend using the ASCE group for general information.

ASCE: Structural Engineering: This is a sub-group of ASCE. The members of this LinkedIn group are mainly structural engineers. This is a good place for discussion and asking for feedback on work-related topics.

American Concrete Institute: This is a great group for structural engineers who work with concrete. You can connect not just with engineers, but also with professionals in the concrete production, design and construction industries.

SEAOC-Structural Engineers Association of California: If you are a structural engineer in California, we highly recommend this group. If you are interested in structural and seismic engineering, this is the group to join.

NCSEA: The National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) is a great group to join to get industry information, find resources including webinars, and hear about local industry events and meetings.

While there are a lot more LinkedIn groups, we hope that the ones we have shared are useful for you. What LinkedIn groups do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

LinkedIn Best Practices for Structural Engineers

As many of you know, LinkedIn is a social networking website specifically aimed at business professionals and is designed to help you link1connect and network with people you know and trust. You can add colleagues, peers and others as contacts and send them messages. You can create and update your personal profile to let your contacts know about your professional activities, and both recommend or endorse your contacts and get recommended or endorsed by your contacts for your professional skills. In addition, you can join groups to communicate with other professionals within the same sector or industry. You are also able to ask and answer industry-related questions, and to learn about and apply for job openings.

A basic membership on LinkedIn is free, but you can also upgrade your account in order to have access to professionals outside of your network.

To help guide you, here are some best practices for how to set up and optimize your LinkedIn account.

Update and Complete Your Profile

link2Having a complete and updated profile on LinkedIn allows you to put your best face forward. Make sure to summarize your role and responsibilities and current and past work experience, highlighting the details you think will make a prospective customer want to work with you. Include a professional-looking headshot and your current contact information. LinkedIn will even tell you your profile strength on the right-hand rail.

Join Industry Specific Groups

Joining groups that are relevant to our industry will allow you to participate in online industry discussions. Answering questions related to your field of expertise within these discussions is an excellent way to position yourself as an authority and build your professional reputation. Here are some structural engineering groups that you can start with:

Structural Engineer

Structural Engineer USA

SEAOC-Structural Engineers Association of California

Forge Connections

Connect with people you already know using your email contacts. This will help you maintain your existing relationships as well as branch out to connect with industry-related people your contacts may know. Another great feature of LinkedIn is that it will tell you “People You May Know” based on where you work or are already linked to. This feature will help you find meaningful connections.

Follow the Company Page and Share Posts

Simpson Strong-Tie has a company LinkedIn page to connect with customers. Company pages are a way to keep up to date on trends in design and building materials, code changes, product launches and other industry news. Make sure to follow the Simpson Strong-Tie company page so that you can stay informed about our latest news and updates.

Manage Privacy Settingslink3

Make sure to review and manage your privacy settings to help you control how many people can view your activities and personal information. You can do this by hovering your mouse on your thumbnail image on the far right- hand side of your home page.link4You should see an Account & Settings drop-down menu appear with an option that says “Privacy & Settings: Manage.” Click this option. Once you are there, you can manage all of your privacy settings.


How do you use LinkedIn as part of your engineering career? Let us know in the comments below.