Networking on rails

First build the tracks (relationships), before trying to move freight on them (getting referrals).

07/09/2012


Norfolk Southern rails in Roanoke, VA. Courtesy: B. AlcornYou climb straight up the 8-ft ladder and are now sitting in the locomotive engineer’s seat. You complete your operational checks, prime the diesel, and all 3,200 hp is now purring and ready to go.  You’ve got hundreds of loaded freight cars connected behind you. About 64,000 lbs of thrust ready to get you rolling. You blow the air horn twice, release the brakes, and move the throttle to the first notch. But wait a minute! You realize you’re not moving. How can that be? Why are we not getting any traction? You hang your head way out of the window and look straight down and realize what the problem is: There aren’t any rails underneath the wheels! Norfolk, we have a problem…

And since I brought up the subject of locomotives, why DOES the general public still think we engineers, all drive locomotives, anyway?!? Don’t a few of us design bridges, stealth aircraft, and nuclear propulsion systems? Hmmmmm...  Oops got “derailed” there for a moment...

Something else to ponder for those of us who are owners of consulting engineering firms and/or are in a business development role in engineering or any other field, is why do we still believe that consistently getting referrals for our company is almost entirely dependent on what our company itself is doing , e.g. “excellent customer service” or “always on-time delivery” or “the lowest cost provider.”  That’s kind of like thinking that a locomotive (the company) is all that is needed to get freight (referrals) moving from point A to point B. Don’t we need some tracks, too? You know tracks: the positive constraints that hold that locomotive up, allow it to get some traction and consistently get to a destination, fast? Wouldn’t that help us to get rolling, just a bit?

In the world of business by referral, I look at the tracks as the actions we take to develop our strategic referral partnerships. When we develop our relationships don’t the referrals we start to receive hold up our locomotive (our company), and allow our company to get “traction” in the market, and most importantly allow us to consistently get more steady and profitable new business when all is said and done?

So if you want to network like you are on rails, I recommend that you first set the tracks (relationships), before trying to move freight on them (getting referrals). Over the next four blog posts, I will be breaking this down into four topics:

1.            Where to build the tracks to: how to choose strategic referral partners.

2.            The tracks: the constraints (actions) to keep the freight (referrals) moving.

3.            Time and schedule: keeping a large volume of freight (referrals) consistently moving along the tracks.

4.            Rail maintenance: the importance of maintaining your tracks (relationships).

Between now and then, your homework is to educate the general public that most engineers actually don’t drive those crazy trains! We will leave that to Ozzy Osbourne. But I guess we can drive the general public crazy by “train”ing them on differential equations or Fourier Transforms, for sure!



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me