How to get your ideas onto the desks of top decision-makers

Many engineers want to demonstrate their expertise to potential clients and employers -- but don't know how to get past gatekeepers such as receptionists, to get their ideas onto the desks of senior executives. One way is through getting published in business publications -- in print or online -- read by the people they want to reach. Learn how ...

You’ve probably been told that to build your professional profile, you need to generate “content” that shows your expertise and thought leadership. And that’s true — writing about trends, new technologies, new ideas and the like can help get you noticed and stand out as offering a distinctive difference.

Getting articles published is also a way to build credibility with organizations to which you’d like to do presentations to demonstrate thought leadership.

But how do you get your ideas in front of the people you want to work for, or with? Not many senior executives will respond to e-mailed newsletters, or to your blog, or content on your organization’s website. They’re too busy.

But most senior leaders know that they need to stay informed about their industry, or profession/occupation. So, they do set aside time to read their industry’s trade publications in print and online, their professional association’s newsletter, credible third-party blogs and other materials they trust.

The credibility of these third-party media can be seen in the advertising rates charged by leading trade publications — in many cases, US$5,000 to $10,000 a page or even more — willingly paid on a repeat basis, and year after year, by some companies that also seek to influence these senior executives.

Let’s consider the case of a geotechnical engineer we’ll call “Jasmine” who focuses on slope-stability issues — using her knowledge of rock and soil mechanics to determine how steep an engineered slope can be, to determine measures that must be taken to keep the slope from collapsing.

Jasmine first needs to think of what clients she needs to reach. Slope stability is an in issue in a wide range of industries — including road-building, mining and building construction. Each of these sectors has publications, in print and online, that reach senior decision-makers. After all, who other than someone senior in their relevant industries would be reading publications with names like “Roads and Bridges,” “Mining Engineering” or “Construction Canada”?

But having helped my clients publish articles in all three of these publications, I can confirm that their editors are eager to get informed articles written by engineers such as Jasmine, on topics such as slope stability.

How does Jasmine find the right publications? One key point to note is that she isn’t her market. She’s not trying to reach other geotechnical engineers. She needs to reach clients, and so she’ll likely have to do some research. She could be looking for magazines such as those I’ve named above, professional and business websites that are looking for new content, and influential third-party blogs

Here’s how:

·       Google — and trying a wide range of search terms and strings

·       Ask her clients which magazines they read, professional associations they’re involved in, and what blogs are most important in their sector

·       The reference librarian at her local library — or a central library

·       Paid directories such as Cision or Ulrich’s, some of which are available through public and college/university libraries

I’ll go into more detail on how to approach an editor in future posts, but for now you can get the basics from YouTube:

To learn more about how to present yourself as a thought-leader in technical areas, visit