9/4/2019 | 3 MINUTE READ

Being Social is Networking

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Networking involves putting oneself in a position to make connections and making an effort to communicate. It’s a social thing, regardless of whether the Internet is a part of it.

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Many believe effective networking is done face to face, building a rapport with someone by looking at them in the eye, leading to a solid connection and foundational trust.

— Raymond Arroyo

The term “social networking” has become commonplace to generally define the use of internet-based communication websites and applications to create and maintain both personal and professional relationships. While I’ve grown accustomed to that usage of the term, I’m more naturally inclined to view all networking opportunities as social. Limiting social networking to only electronic interactions seems a bit of a misnomer because any form of networking requires communication, and communication requires being social.

As editors, we spend a lot of time expanding our social networking reach through channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. While I still consider myself pretty tech savvy, I must admit that some of these efforts have not come easy for me. While perhaps I stumble a little remembering the proper protocols for tagging and posting, I probably struggle more with fitting it into my day. I’m more “old school” when it comes to networking, and I believe a large portion of Production Machining’s audience may be the same. But social networking truly has its place, and its usage is constantly gaining momentum. We want to reach all of our readers in ways that are most convenient for them, so we try to maximize the advantages of these channels.

But this month I will be taking advantage of one of our industry’s more traditional forms of networking as I head to Hannover, Germany, for my first experience at EMO, the world’s biggest metalworking trade show exhibition. To this point, I’ve only read about the extent of industry coverage included at the show, and I’ve heard stories of its immense scope. I’m looking forward to the experience and the opportunity to connect with yet a broader congregation of current and potential readers.

EMO 2019 will carry the theme “Smart Technologies Driving Tomorrow’s Production.” More than 2,100 exhibitors from almost 50 different countries will be on hand, and about 130,000 show attendees are expected. Our European correspondent, Barbara Schulz, attended a press preview event held at the show grounds. Check out highlights of the preview (gbm.media/emo19prev) to see how the show will be addressing such topics as Industry 4.0 and IoT in production, advances in communication interfaces that further integrate machine tools into the production network, and additive manufacturing and its impact on today’s subtractive machining environment.

Another example of trade show network success is illustrated in our Shop Management Software feature in this issue. KEB Industries Inc., a supplier of precision tooling for Swiss CNC machines, has been exhibiting at each Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS) since the mid-2000s. For most of that time, its booth was next to that of Henning Industrial Software, a developer specializing in manufacturing and accounting solutions. As is common at PMTS, personnel from the two companies formed a bit of a friendship, and they got to know each other’s products.

When KEB found itself in the market for a new ERP system, it was natural for the company owner, Bradley Butler, to reach out first to Henning. The strong business relationship resulted in implementation of a shop management system that has propelled KEB to even further growth.

Mr. Butler has found PMTS to be a very effective networking opportunity. “PMTS has been great for us because it is highly focused on our industry and specifically small-diameter machining,” he says. “Many of the other shows are more generalized and exhibitors may get lost in the shuffle. When we first started doing the show, we saw immediate results because every visitor is a qualified lead.”

Now that KEB has exhibited at PMTS for many years, a good number of attendees have had a chance to see the company’s products. While some of these visitors may not have an immediate need for the workholding products, the name recognition and product familiarity are already developed and when the need arises, KEB may be top of mind. “As we’ve made connections at the show through the years, perhaps the percentage of new customers may have lessened, but we continue to see a growing number of existing customers,” Mr. Butler says. “The show gives us the opportunity to extend those relationships as well.”

Whatever networking methods that are used, relationship building is the key result. We should focus on what works for us and take advantage of all opportunities.

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