From The Editor | July 27, 2022

Getting Your Engineering Foot Firmly In The Door

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Mark V. Wiley, Chief Editor

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Winning engineering design work from utilities is difficult, especially for consulting firms with less tenure or brand recognition in a geographic market. The legacy connections that exist between municipalities and established engineering firms may have been in place for decades.

In order to gain consideration for design work, you need to establish personal connections with the right individuals within the municipalities and utilities within your geographic area. This can take time, as everyone is busy, and companies tend to rely on their established partners. But if you want to grow, making those connections is essential.

Spec Designs

One way to showcase your abilities and win a small to mid-sized project is by offering your preliminary design work on spec. By offering a preliminary design for free, you can win attention and open the door for future projects. You may not get the job, but you will gain the opportunity to flex your engineering design muscles, be involved in the city’s evaluation process. In some cases, by getting your foot in the door, you may win part of the project to collaborate with the lead firm as a valued partner.

New Guard, New Relationships

We are in a time of transition. According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA)'s State of the Industry ’22, “The water sector is increasingly challenged by a shortage of qualified professionals due largely to the number of highly-experienced and trained workers who are retiring or have made changes due to the pandemic. This is reflected in this year’s Top 20 issues ranking, which includes: No. 4 - Aging workforce/ anticipated retirements (up from No. 8 in 2021).” This provides a real opportunity to form new relationships.

Similar to the “brain drain” we are witnessing as tenured operators and utility managers retire; we are also seeing a “relationship drain” between engineering consultants and utilities as established connections start to weaken with the changing of the guard. The next generation of leaders are assuming decision-making authority and their relationship-building activities are different from the generation before them. Having been raised on the Internet, they begin their discovery process turning to Google and industry-specific resources like Water Online, to understand the challenges they face and look for likely partners and collaborators. There is a big opportunity for engineering firms to reinforce their credibility online.

Brand Awareness and Trust

As utility managers research more online, you need to be consistently found. Historically, many engineers have recognized the importance of creating a specific piece of content – a unique design per client; an inspired research paper for a peer-reviewed journal or a specific presentation to deliver at a conference. This creates a limited pool of assets for a small subset of your firm, either the writer herself or those closely connected to the process or project discussed. In many cases, these content pieces are not published online and are not easily discoverable by prospects.

As an engineering firm, thinking beyond your engineers' individual presentations or papers to create a unified content database that consistently provides a variety of thought leadership will build brand awareness and trust across your organization. By consolidating all your content assets in one place and leveraging them in their entirety to a large captive audience, you can win recognition for your company beyond the individual author.

We Can Help

At Water Online, we position content portfolios and capture our readers’ engagement across all your subject matter experts’ content, from articles to webinars to interviews. In this way, a presentation delivered by an engineer at a local event in Wisconsin can resonate and engage a utility professional in Florida.

This approach snowballs. As your content is shared online, it reaches a wider audience and births new opportunities for more presentations, conversations, and pitches.