Powering Your Connections

The official slogan of the recent AMBA conference couldn’t be more on point. As with so much else in life, good business depends on good relationships.

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The AMBA’s annual conference, hosted in Milwaukee May 14-16, provided an ideal venue to discuss challenges and opportunities with business leaders facing similar competitive pressures. (Photo courtesy of Creative Technology Corp.)

I’m not sure what chain of events led to the cancellation of my flight into Milwaukee a few weeks back. Luckily, I’d been stranded in Chicago, just a short bus ride away from the city that played host to the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) annual conference. Although there wasn’t much time left to network when I finally arrived that night, I didn’t think much of it. After all, the only thing going on that evening was a cocktail reception. And, what I assumed would be the most valuable content—the presentations and the “Ignite” educational sessions—were yet to come. Those portions of the event did indeed deliver (for instance, I recently blogged about the organization’s efforts to develop mold-industry specific skills certification). By the time I left a few days later, I felt energized, engaged and educated.

In hindsight, however, I’d bet the business cards I carried home in my pocket will serve me just as well as anything I learned in any formal presentation. Behind every card is a person—a relationship—that might pay off in a direct article lead, an idea for a lead, a continuing source of wisdom about technology or the industry, or even just a good conversation when I run into those folks again. (Of course, that’s a two-way street, as there are certainly advantages to getting a write-up in MoldMaking Technology!) The fact that many of these relationships began (or were strengthened) in the waning minutes of that first night’s cocktail reception made me wonder how many other connections I might have made with a bit more time.

Of course, such networking was really the whole point—as reflected in the AMBA conference’s official slogan, “Powering Your Connections.” Likewise, I’ve understood for a long while that my job as a writer depends heavily on developing and maintaining relationships within the industry I cover. Yet, my mindset at the outset of the conference just goes to show that it can be easy to lose the forest for the trees.

Don’t lose sight of the importance of relationships. Just as importantly, don’t forget to directly leverage those relationships—to power your connections. Modern communications technology certainly makes this easier. For instance, in an opening presentation, Troy Nix, AMBA executive director, outlined a scenario of how a shop might start a relationship with with a new customer through a series of connections on LinkedIn. The ABMA also operates a forum where mold builders consult with one another about various shop floor problems. Of course, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction—something ABMA members understand better than most, judging from the seemingly robust attendance at the event. (If you missed the conference or if you aren’t an AMBA member, there’s another networking opportunity right around the corner: Amerimold, our own trade show and technical conference. The AMBA will be there too, of course, at booth 433. We hope to see you there!). 

Nix’s presentation concluded with a quote from author Robert Kiyosaki that I thought summed up the message nicely: “The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.”

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