Power-Up Your Networking Skill (Conclusion)

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Diana Vollmer |

Encourage team to explore opportunities inside, outside your drycleaning operation

SAN FRANCISCO — As business owners and managers, you are somewhat aware of the power of networking in building your sales.

This column will expand on that concept as well as delineate additional areas that networking can add value to your company by putting your network to work for you.

Networking is commonly linked to marketing, but all of the management items mentioned here can benefit from leveraging your network on behalf of your business.

NETCASTER

Networking with peers who have similar responsibilities can provide insight (related to both what worked and what didn’t) and expertise that can be shared and transported into your company.

Peer groups are plentiful through industry associations of all types. An hour away from the facility every month can reap tremendous benefits in leapfrog learning.

Some simple places to begin are listed for each category, as follows:

Expense ControlThe Society of Cost Management (SCM) is a good place to find professionals in this field and to access current best practices and benchmarks.

Facilities Management — Real estate-related groups are located in every market, big and small. Continual improvement in efficiency and expense control is a key topic of discussion at every meeting. Let your team utilize this expertise to improve your facilities management.

Financial Issues — Continuing education classes are offered by professional accounting associations throughout the country and are open to non-accountants as well. Take advantage of this valuable local resource.

Not only are the classes informative, but the contacts made will be invaluable as regulations change. American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers is a place to access events and members.

Human ResourcesThe Society for Human Resource Management is an active source of education, information, members and networking events about all things human resources-related.

Distribution ChannelsThe National Retail Federation provides many useful resources to managers involved in the distribution channels of goods and services.

Technology — Depending upon the technology and/or automation in question, the POS providers usually offer webinars and group interactive training that can be invaluable for IT efficiency and effectiveness within a cleaning company.

Marketing and AdvertisingThe American Marketing Association provides events, research, case studies, statistics and networking opportunities, as well as access to freelance marketing professionals who will work for you on a project basis.

They will provide portfolios of their work for your decision-making process and will supplement your in-house team as needed.

Communications: Internal/External — The Dale Carnegie courses continue to be proven for successful communication training. The friendships made during the courses are also great sources of future networking and influence.

Manufacturing and ThroughputThe National Association of Manufacturers is a broad-based association of manufacturing and efficiency professionals in a wide range of industries represented in all states. The member companies range from small to large in terms of volume and facility size.

Leadership TrainingThe American Management Association (AMA) is a good source, with various resources available. Also, refer again to Dale Carnegie courses.

Mechanical and Physical Maintenance — A resource for maintenance engineers is the Association for Facilities Engineers (AFE), which provides trade-craft-related supervisory and management certification and technical information.

TAKE ACTION

Encourage your team to explore the opportunities to network both inside and outside the organization to improve their skills and leadership capabilities as well as increase visibility and sales for your company.

Challenge: Go through your own list of contacts from all sources and think of ways you can mutually benefit each other. Then start making those contacts valuable to your company.

If you don’t regularly meet with other businesspeople in your market, start doing it now. A weekly breakfast group can be invaluable for gathering market intelligence that will be actionable.

Get out of your comfort zone and include professionals with different but compatible skills and knowledge, e.g., a banker, an attorney, a car dealer, a real estate broker, a marketing professional.

You will soon look forward to these off-site networking events, and they will become uniquely essential to your operation.

To read Part 1, go HERE.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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