PENELOPE BROWN Director, Marketing and Communications
Networking tips for the networking phobic We all know it’s important to build your personal network to develop and maintain professional relationships. We know it, and many of us set out to do it. But what if you’re the more reserved type? Do you identify with any of the following? • You go to a conference and spend cocktail hour staring at your phone over a glass of wine (or trying to hold a conversation with the one or two people you actually know). • You stare longingly at another attendee/ speaker/expert and really, really want to strike up a conversation … but don’t. • You die a little inside when a conference speaker forces you to interact with the people around you. You aren’t alone, friend – I have done all of the above. But there’s the saying: “we do business with people, not with companies.” And we’re likely to do even more business with people we know and like. So how can you get over your “networkaphobia” to have a productive
event and make successful connections? Here are a few tips you might want to try. Come prepared with questions. Have a few softballs in your back pocket to get the conversation going. “What types of new things are you working on at XYZ company?” “What business software/tools/practices have you added recently?” “What do you think is most important for someone who wants to advance their career in this industry?” Listen. Your conversations are going to be awkward if you’re constantly just thinking about what to say next. Listen intently to other people and be present for them to keep the talk flowing. Develop your elevator pitch. How would you describe your company and your role in it in 30 seconds or less? Coming with questions is great, but be sure to have something interesting to say about yourself. Set goals and a “finish line.” Consider this rewarding yourself for doing what you don’t want to do. “I will give myself permission to go back to my hotel room
after I speak to two new people.” Set challenges to meet people and pat yourself on the back when you do. Over and over again, when AMT members are asked about the top benefits of membership, they repeatedly point to the networking opportunities. Through meetings and events, membership committees, and other chances to get involved, savvy AMT members know that they can find plenty of chances to get connected with their business peers. And the universe of networking opportunities expands far beyond those offered by AMT. There is everything from the brown bag lunch ‘n learn with your local chamber of commerce to the vast and wild unknowns of the internet. The hardest part is taking the first step. You might not ever be the kind who “never meets a stranger,” but you don’t have to be the most outgoing person in the room to develop a high-quality professional network. Develop your own strategy and the results will follow.
“We all know it’s important to build your personal network to develop and maintain professional relationships.”
Email me at pbrown@AMTonline.org.
“I can see clearly now” — Why networking matters BY BROOKE N. SYKES, CMTSE AMT MEMBER Looking back to the beginning of March and the recent MFG Meeting in Miami, an increased clarity came to me sometime during and right after the meeting. The clarification was one for the question “WHY?” Why be involved in an association? Why spend the money to go to the MFG Meeting? Yes, Miami is great in early March. Yes, the MFG Meeting speakers and sessions offer beneficial pieces of information for me to use. Yes, the food and music at the closing event are great. But there must be more to make the investment worth it. The answer is yes there is. In the past, I was always mindful of a certain characteristic/reward of my AMT involvement and my attendance at the MFG meetings, but I never really focused on it. I was talking to Steve Wherry (past AMTDA Chairman) about the MFG Meeting and the usual question of “WHY?” quickly came up. Steve sums up his answer to “WHY?” in one word – CONNECTIVITY. He said he
found clarity when he experienced a separation from his major builder product line. As a distributorship owner there was a dire necessity to find the next partnership to supply products and services to his customer base. He turned to his relationships. Many if not most of those relationships were built through his involvement at both AMTDA and AMT. Steve’s company would not be where it is today without his connectivity! I have to say I agree, but my moment of focus came from a different point of view – my career. At the beginning of 2018 I found that I had a new assignment: Find a new job! As the MFG Meeting approached, the question came up of do I go to the meeting or not? Wow, a tougher “WHY?” to answer this time. For the first time the meeting attendance cost came directly out of my personal pocket. How could I justify that, especially being unemployed? As I focused on the dilemma, I began to see more clearly. How could I not attend what would be one of the largest potential interviewing platforms to occur in my industry? Yes, the weather was great, the food was the great, sessions infor-
mative, but that was not my focus. My connections due to my past involvement with my association became clear to me as the meeting progressed. I formed several new connections as well. I accomplished more to help my situation than I ever could have imagined. Not to mention, I gained confidence by the realization of being connected. It also renewed the pride I have for our industry as well. This is where I need to be. I know we can all look to modern technologies and the internet to replace how things are processed today. I am still a very firm believer in the need for interaction within our species, especially us, the manufacturing sub-species! As one of my mentors said early in my career, “People want to do business with people; this is a human fundamental. And further, they want to do business with people they know and respect.” Thanks to John Hackenberg for this tidbit of wisdom! In conclusion, don’t just be mindful of the benefit of being connected to others in our world through AMT meetings and involvement, FOCUS on it. You will be amazed at the connections you develop and how they will enhance you and your company’s well being!