Successful IET Communities

What makes a successful IET Community? There is no definitive answer to this question but we want to provide our volunteers with some ideas to help you create the community you want and that fulfils the IET’s objectives.

What are your network’s objectives?

Success will depend on the objectives for your community. Hopefully you will have had a chance to think about this in your annual planning review. Some ideas are:

  • Engaging with more students and Young Professionals
  • Inspiring school children
  • Helping to disseminate technical content
  • Growing your volunteering pool
  • Building your online community
  • Engaging with industry
  • Enabling networking and professional development

Engaging with more students and Young Professionals

If this is what you would like to achieve there are a number of different options open to your network.

Silhouettes of people networking in front of a blue view of the globe  

On Campus: IET On Campus is the IET’s comprehensive approach to working with universities across the world. The initiative is primarily run by students, with support from IET staff, Local Network volunteers and a member of their university staff. To find out more about this initiative and how Local Networks can leverage it to engage with students please read this briefing.

You can also watch this film presented by the Head of Communities and Events, Alex Taylor, who talks you through On Campus and what it means for Local Networks.

Local Networks in the UK can also create stronger links with universities by connecting with the IET Diamond Jubilee Scholars. Read our case study on what this means and how you can utilise them more effectively.

Present Around The World: Present Around The World is a global competition for Young Professionals and Students within engineering to develop and showcase their presentation skills. Local Networks that wish to engage more with young professionals should look to hold a competition. The IET can provide you with lots of event management and marketing resources. To find out more please go to the Present Around The World website.

Sponsoring a prize: Where universities or colleges do not have IET accredited programmes Local Networks can offer an IET Local Network Prize to reward excellence in students. The prize winner should be nominated on the official form (please request this from your staff support) by the academic establishment on the basis of having achieved excellence on a course that falls within the IET’s scope of interest. No restriction regarding age, sex or nationality should be made. The value of the award must be £250 or an amount with an equivalent purchasing power in other countries. Only one award should be offered per establishment even where there are a number of different departments specialising in different areas of engineering and technology.

John Lawrence, Chairman of the South Yorkshire Local Network, has put together the following case study which highlights how they have been using the Student of Excellence Award as a way of improving their relationships with universities and employers in their local area. 

Inspiring school children

Each UK Local Network has at least one voluntary Schools Liaison Officer who supports educational activities on behalf of the IET, and who can access bespoke support and resources from the IET’s Education 5-19 team.

Each year the Gloucestershire Local Network organises a stand at the Cheltenham Science Festival, an ambitious six day event. In 2017 the network developed a series of activities using micro:bits, borrowed exhibition equipment from the @Bristol science museum and worked with a local STEM club organiser to equip their stand in the new Maker Shack. With innovative use of the event booking system they were able to attract over 50 volunteers to run the stand over the week. The Maker Shack attracted over 8000 visitors over the course of the festival.

If you do not have a Schools Liaison Officer please contact the 5-19 Team ieteducation@theiet.org and they will do all they can to help.

Helping to disseminate technical content

The IET supports a number of Technical Networks and we encourage collaboration between them and Local Networks. One possibility could be holding a technical event within a specific geographic area that is jointly organised between the Local and Technical Network. An example is when the Aerospace TPN and Singapore LN worked together on an event in 2015.

Growing your team

Having a pool of willing and active volunteers to help out with activities can be one of the most important challenges for Local Networks. The networks that have a more formal succession planning system tend to be those with the least issues. Read our volunteer briefing on succession planning.

The New South Wales young professionals have come up with a great way of recruiting new volunteers and preparing them for a position on their committee. This is done through two initiatives, the 'Volunteer Squad', and the 'Shadow Committee'. Read the following case study to find out more about how this works, and how successful it has been so far. 

Advertise for volunteers at your event: The Surrey Local Network have produced a small advert and form calling for more volunteers that they leave on the seats at their events. Tim Brown who created the idea told us “We find it is better to do advertise for new volunteers at events where there is more mix of age of attendance. Therefore more big mainstream events that get a Young Professionals audience are better to target for us”. The Communities Team have re-created Surrey LN’s volunteer forms in Word Format so please feel free to edit them for your network, print them out and use at your events.

Run a volunteer workshop: Mersey and Western Cheshire Network run a bi-annual volunteer workshop which gets everyone together, reviews the previous session, takes ideas to bring the network forward, has guest speakers and talks KPI’s. This year (2017) will be the third time this network has run the workshop and they have found it very valuable.

There are resources to help you support new team members, including the Volunteer Handbook, information on inductions, and policies, on the Volunteer Gateway

Building an online community

The IET hosts the Engineering Communities platform. This is a place where Local Networks can build and nurture your own online community. All Community Administrators are invited to join the Community Administrators Group on the platform that has a wealth of guidance on how to build an online engineering community.

Engaging with industry

The IET Regional Development Managers can work with Local Networks in the UK in the following ways:

  • Promoting and supporting professional development
  • Supporting individuals who want to achieve professional registration
  • Engaging non-Members
  • PRA/PRI volunteering opportunities.

Should you identify an organisation where you believe the IET should be offering support please speak to your Community Manager.

Enabling networking and professional development events

You could be offering professional development opportunities for local engineers and students. Examples include Fresher’s and Graduation events in universities and colleges, Lifeskills workshops, membership recruitment events and Professional Registration events. You can find out more about running successful events like Lifeskills in our Running successful events section.

Other great ideas initiated by Local Networks

Welcoming new members: Ensuring that new members of your local network feel welcome is a great way of engaging with them from the start. Birmingham Local Network invites their new members to Austin Court for a few nibbles and a chat. Nothing too fancy but it’s a great introduction and an opportunity to network.

Asking for event suggestions/feedback: This one could be really beneficial but is often overlooked. Asking your delegates to fill out feedback forms following an event could provide you with some great tips to use at future events. Asking for event suggestions can also give a good insight into what your members would like to see more of.

Annual team building: IET Malaysia YPS organised an Annual Team Building event and invited not just the Young Professionals (YPs) committee members but also the On Campus groups’ committee members. The purpose was to get to know each other, build stronger team and to coordinate future events. During the event, a mini forum sharing session was conducted for YPs to share experience being an engineer, what skills needed before the students step into a working world.

Join the conversation!

If you want to ask other IET Communities Volunteers about successful communities go to the IET Volunteer Community today and start a discussion.