Additive Manufacturing

JUL 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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MFG ADVOCATE CATEGORY: I Industry Insight JULY 2018 Additive Manufacturing 28 Take Your Networking Game Online By Penelope Brown Director – Marketing & Communications AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology You really can't place too much value on networking when it comes to how it can benefit your career. In this column, let's talk about taking it online. Some will say that the internet means you already have a sizeable network in place, and that all those 2nd and 3rd connections on LinkedIn are already a part of your circle. Un- fortunately, that's far from the truth. It still comes down to re- lationship building. But before that, it's about identifying your influencers, having something to show them, and connecting with them in a meaningful way (the trickiest part). Identify your influencers: You must identify your targets before you can connect, right? If you already have a particular expert in mind, your work is done. But maybe you're looking for a decision-maker at a company to do business with them, or you're looking for a job there but don't have a personal contact. Start at the high level and then drill down—follow the company on LinkedIn, Twitter or other online means (for example, subscribe to their online newsletter). Read up to monitor company activities but more importantly to see what names are mentioned in their content. Give them some attention: Once you've found those influenc- ers, start listening to them. Google them. Read their blog posts and status updates. (You can follow folks on LinkedIn without sending an invitation to connect—more on that later.) Find out what their interests are and the topics they discuss regularly. Like, comment on and share their posts. If you are writing your own blogs and so- cial posts, quote your influencers in your own content. Then make sure they know about it—share on social and tag them. If you've got that blog, ask them for content as a guest post. Have something to show people: If you're raising your own visibility, you need to have something to show what you're about. LinkedIn has a wonderful publishing platform for writing your own articles. While you're there, update your profile regularly. Give status updates about what you are work- ing on. Not a writer? Consider video blogging. Be prepared for what you're going to say, make sure you have a nice setting with good lighting and a good backdrop, and be sure to dress professionally—at least from the waist up! Perform regular maintenance: Once you're connected with your influencer, the work has just begun. Reaching out only when you have a favor to ask is not likely to get you very far. Once you have those connections, keep engaging with their online posts. Endorse their skills on LinkedIn. And take it offline too—add them to your holiday card list, and if you're at the same event or visiting their city, arrange for an in-person meeting. If your influencer is speaking at an event, quote them on social media and tag them. You might even approach them to take a picture together! A word about LinkedIn (and email): LinkedIn is the place to be for online networking. However, it's not a good place for a first step. Those cold-call invitations are likely to get ignored unless you can demonstrate that you already have a lot of quality connections in common with that individual. I person- ally ignore many invitations that I receive, often because they appear to be a leader for a sales pitch. For that reason, you'll need to build some awareness and rapport with your intended target elsewhere. This is also true if you happen to have your influencer's professional email address—be careful about using it as your first line of communication. Change your attitude: Finally, it's important to think of networking less as a transactional exchange and more like building a productive relationship. While you might already have an end goal in mind (product sales, job leads, etc.), don't forget that we are human beings first. Be willing to spend time developing and cultivating your relationships to keep them with you for years to come. Contact me at pbrown@amtonline.org.

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