5 Networking Habits of the Well-Connected Supply Chain Professional

Published : June 11, 2015

networking

The supply chain is all about links and fulfillment, but sometimes busy supply chain professionals neglect their own personal and professional links and career fulfillment. It's crucial to build a solid personal and professional “chain” of acquaintances that can help your career flourish and/or your business grow through sales and partnerships.

A lively network of online and offline connections gives you a healthy pool of potential future employers and/or customers. Networking helps you showcase your expertise and become more influential in the industry, and our 5 tips can help you up your networking game.

1. Choose your networks wisely.

Since you're never awash in free time in a warehousing, fulfillment and supply chain job, you must choose the right social media networks and optimize your time. Which social networks will give you the most great connections for the time spent?

To find the best forums, discussions and interest groups:

  • Check out where the competition is spending their time. Many of these forums might be useful for you as well. Search Google for the company name and the name of the CEO/principals. Read beyond the first page of official links to discover less well-known, but possibly profitable, networks to visit.

  • Join, observe and interact on the most relevant networks, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Xing.

  • Follow influential industry-related blogs and contribute to discussion (and, potentially, even guest posts).

2. Contribute to conversations.

To establish or deepen relationships with others in the industry, to reveal your expertise and/or find new customers, you must contribute to the discussion online. Ask and answer questions. Engage in discussions about current developments in supply and demand or logistics. Share and receive good advice. You may want to lurk and observe for a short time to familiarize yourself with the proper etiquette of different groups within each online communities you want to join. Each social network has it's own micro-culture, but most value sharing new and useful information freely and keeping any promotion (of yourself as an expert or of your company seeking new business) to a minimum.

  • Project a friendly, curious, helpful, approachable and confident persona.

  • Engage in or start pleasant and helpful conversations, sharing advice on business and daily life and debating points in an open manner.

  • Debating and disagreeing can be very educational and valuable to building your network, as long as you remain respectful of the other's point of view. Take any testy disagreements to a more private discussion space, such as email. Remember that any comment or image you post is part of a permanent record, somewhere online.

3. Learn "hacks" and shortcuts.

You'll save time, get the most use out of your unique networks and look like you belong in that particular community if you know the popular shortcuts and tools.

For instance:

  • On Facebook, create a fan page. The fan page is important because you can send messages to your whole list of fans at once.

  • Use the analytics within most networks to learn more about who is following and connecting with you and where traffic is originating.

  • Get familiar with and use (but don't overuse) #hashtags. Most social sites use them to organize posts and comments, making the topics or keywords easy for users to find. To learn the hashtags associated with your company and brand — and use/encourage the positive ones — try Sprout Social Trends report.

4. Be choosy about connections.

Keep your goals in mind when networking. Don't waste valuable time trying to earn the most likes or amass the most friends/connections.

  • Opt for quality over quantity.

  • Set aside a certain amount of time every week for social media.

  • For career development or building your industry influence, target decision makers, industry execs, influential bloggers with large followings, media reps, etc.

5. Leverage your network.

Once you build a significant network, you can mine them for information, referrals, sales or new career opportunities.

  • Make sure you give as much as (or more than) you get.

  • Be free with advice and low key with any pitches until you are familiar with the channel you're communicating on.

  • You can take polls and surveys, send discount codes, solicit advice and more from a valuable and well-managed online network.

  • Target your communications on every network (and your company marketing email list, too), by segmenting your connections and contacts into distinct groups. That way, you can communicate the right messages to the right people for more impact, rather than blanketing everyone with shares they may not be interested in.

Hopefully these tips will help you to grow and re-energize your online presence as a fulfillment professional, as well as attract new business.

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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