How to Build Manufacturing Awareness with Events

Originally titled 'Building Manufacturing Awareness'

Six best practices for hosting community events that promote industry engagement.

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Awareness about manufacturing careers has increased over the last few years, and at Westminster Tool, we believe that community involvement is the key to this positive trend. Most of our success with awareness and recruitment has been a result of hosting community events that encourage engagement across the industry and within our company.

Here are six best practices for hosting a successful community event in your area.

Diversify Your Audience

It is important to note that many different audiences need to know about manufacturing careers. More importantly, it is necessary to understand that it is not just students. Your community includes students and school programs, manufacturing peers, teachers, parents, and general community members who may be looking for career change.

While the diversity of these groups may seem overwhelming, the processes and best practices for engaging them in an event remain very similar. Here are a few ways to engage these groups through a company-hosted event.

  • Community open house. An open house provides an opportunity to invite everyone in the community to tour your organization, learn about what you do, and see how the inside of a manufacturing facility looks. Many people are not aware of what is made right in their backyard nor the technology that is used to make the products, which are essential to our day to day lives.
  • Tours for local schools and school programs. Schools are constantly seeking ways to educate students on different career paths and to help them see real-life concepts of what they teach. Inviting students to tour not only contributes to their education and awareness of manufacturing, but it is also a great way to interact with the up-and-coming talent pool.
  • Tours for local manufacturers. Collaboration is a powerful tool that businesses can utilize. By simply inviting other manufacturers to tour your organization, you can help to share insight into best practices, recent accomplishments and areas in which you excel. For example, if you recently completed a Kaizen that allowed you to increase throughput in a previous bottleneck area, invite a company to visit to understand the process so that they can apply a similar technique to their bottleneck. When we help each other improve, we enhance the development of manufacturing within our community.

 

It is important to note that many different audiences need to know about manufacturing careers. More importantly, it is necessary to understand that it is not just students.

 

Know Your Audience

As with many things in life, it is important to know your audience when inviting them into your company. Identifying the knowledge level of your audience will help you to set appropriate talking points that will engage and excite your audience, instead of confusing and boring them. Be sure to share this information and their knowledge level with anyone who is going to be speaking with or presenting to your guests.

Your approach to explaining the EDM process will vastly differ if you are talking to a group who has never heard of an electrode versus a group that understands manufacturing the inverse of a shape to get the desired geometry. Your speakers are most likely industry experts who consider spark gap common vernacular, so they may need a reminder to speak in more simplistic terms to express their points.

 

Be Mindful of Timing

Timing is key to produce an engaging event successfully. Be sure to give people plenty of notice regarding the event, so that they can make appropriate arrangements with minimal interruption to their schedule. Again, it is important to consider your audience. If you want to have your local school system send it home with students, you will most likely need to get approval from the superintendent first. Build extra time into your schedule to accommodate for these approvals the first time you host an event.

You should also be sure to map out the timing of the event carefully. For starters, ensure you know how much time you are going to spend for the entire tour and be sure to lay out the flow and timing. Attendees should have a specific amount of time at each tour station, and the timing should be equal for each stop, allowing groups to move consistently through the shop and to avoid forming a backup.

 

Be Engaging

Now that you have the community in your doors, it is important to engage them so that they leave impacted. By knowing who the audience is, you will have a better idea of how to get them engaged. A key way to do this is to explain not only what your product is, but how the audience may interact with the product during their lives. Using props, such as an example of the finished product, is a great way to get non-auditory learners engaged.

Another way to make your event engaging is to ask questions and create an environment where attendees are encouraged to ask questions and start a discussion. We typically do this at the start of a tour by saying “no question is stupid!” and making a point to say we are here to help them understand whatever questions they have.

 

Now that you have the community in your doors, it is important to engage them so that they leave impacted.

 

Collect Data

Collecting information about who is attending including contact details will help you to plan accordingly. Your approach will change if you have five attendees versus 50. It’s also an opportunity to create a database of people who may be interested in future events you will be hosting. We have used resources such as MailChimp and Eventbrite to help us host some of our larger events. We also have a database of interested community members to help drive participation and spread the word.

Collecting data on what works and what doesn’t work is also essential. For example, if showing an end product only seemed to distract a certain group of students, make a note of that for future events, so as not to repeat that mistake. 

 

Provide Impactful Giveaways

Hosting events is a great opportunity for you to promote your organization and manufacturing. Send them away with brochures that explain how someone can apply for a job, job applications for an interested attendee, flyers for local manufacturing education programs and business cards for anyone interested in a future job shadow or who merely has more questions.

When hosting an event for your peers, connect them with the most appropriate person within your team to help them tackle their current challenge or hand out a flyer regarding other ways to get engaged with a community manufacturing group.  The key is not to let the enthusiasm you created end once they step out the door.

 

About the Author

Kylee Carbone is Director of Talent Development for Westminster Tool.

 

Westminster Tool

(860) 564-6966, ext. 244

kcarbone@westminstertool.com

www.westminstertool.com

 

 

 

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