Rub Elbows and Gain Customers
It’s a new year flush with opportunities to grow, personally and professionally. With this issue of MetalForming, I’d like to promote one critical task that business professionals might take for granted, but in my opinion must not overlook: peer networking. Researching the notion of networking, I turned to a trusted source on the subject, Entrepreneur magazine columnist Dr. Ivan Misner, who has written numerous books on the subject and has been dubbed the Father of Modern Networking by CNN and the Networking Guru by Entrepreneur.
Beginning on page 24 of this issue, we share with you one chapter from Dr. Misner’s latest book, Networking Like a Pro (Turning Contacts into Connections). I’d like to share here a few key quotes from that chapter, but I’d like to first challenge you to, after reading the article, go forth and kick up your business-to-business networking efforts a notch.
Peer networking feeds the growth of your company’s senior managers, which in turn feeds the growth of your company. And from my perspective here at PMA headquarters, the association has the peer-networking resources you need. Its family of networking groups allow like-minded business leaders—CEOs, presidents, chairmen, vice presidents, general managers, plant managers, and the like—from throughout our industry to share new ideas and benchmark their operations.
In 2010, PMA’s networking groups conducted in-depth roundtable discussions addressing topics such as energy-saving ideas, using social media for marketing, apprenticeship programs, consignment inventory, receivables insurance, use of security camera in plants and techniques for motivating and rewarding star employees.
One of the newest members of a PMA CEO networking group is Quaker Mfg. Corp., Salem, OH, (see the company’s advertisement on page 27 of this issue). Says Quaker Mfg. president and COO Bill Blanton:
“Participating in a PMA CEO networking group has led to the creation of close bonds and friendships with industry peers, so that we can openly discuss strategy and vision, and also provide unique and fresh perspectives on each other’s unique challenges and dilemmas. Getting honest feedback from multiple sources in the group provides me with a more accurate portrait of the industry and the market as a whole than would otherwise be possible from the narrow view of my own business.”
Now back to Dr. Misner. In the book chapter I selected for reprinting, the good doctor describes the four streams of your networking river—your casual contacts, knowledge network, an online network and a strong-contact networking group. Networking through your industry association—PMA—falls under knowledge network, and here Dr. Misner offers solid advice:
“A master networker seeks first to help others. Go in with the idea of helping people solve problems and improve their business. By making friends first you will gain customers later. Yes, you’ll be rubbing elbows with competitors, but there are advantages. You’ll stay abreast of developments in your industry, find out what your competitors are up to, study the competition’s brochures and presentations, and discover opportunities to collaborate with competitors whose specialties are different from yours or who need help on a big project.”
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