Looking to experience new ways of thinking? Build beneficial business relationships? Find career opportunities available nowhere else? Network! Networking is one the most valuable career development strategies for any professional at any stage in their career. Job seekers and employers alike constantly ask: “How did you build your supply chain network? Where are some of the places I can go to find supply chain professionals?” While there are many answers to these questions, here are a few great places to expand your supply chain network:
Supply Chain Associations
Supply chain associations offer a wealth of advantages for supply chain professionals. Below are a few avenues within the associations to try:
Conferences: Supply chain conferences take place over multiple days and are the best and easiest way to make a lot of contacts in a short period of time. Check out the agenda and if a particular speaker catches your eye, reach out to them to schedule a meet up before or after the conference. Another tactic is to arrive early, and politely approach the speaker while he/she is waiting for the room to fill. Just be sure to come prepared! You should have business cards and a talking point ready to strike up a conversation.
Meet the Locals: Local Chapter Meetings for associations like APICS or CSCMP provide an excellent way to socialize with other supply chain professionals in your region. Most meetings are educational and feature a guest speaker.
Use the Online Directory: Search your online membership directory using criteria such as industry, company, location, or job title to find other members to make connections with.
Take a Tour: Facility tours of manufacturing plants, warehouses, and distribution centers are another helpful resource. Acquire new knowledge of your field and meet professionals from the company hosting the event at the same time.
Use Your Current Network
One of the easiest ways to start building your supply chain network is to receive referrals from people you already know, such as coworkers, alumni, LinkedIn connections, family, and friends. Let them know what you hope to gain through networking so that you receive the types of referrals that will move you in your intended direction. Embrace diversity for maximum benefit; don’t limit yourself to people who only work in your profession.
Connect With Professional Business Organizations
Another to expand your supply chain network to look is different business networks, as they have chapters and host networking events across the country. Here are a few places to get started:
Business Journal (www.bizjournals.com/calendar/): This popular directory for business news and events is organized by metropolitan cities. They host numerous networking events that range from industry conferences to local business awards.
Chamber of Commerce (www.uschamber.com): There are thousands of local Chamber of Commerce chapters in the U.S, providing networking resources for small business owners and their employees.
BNI – Business Networking International (www.bniamerica.com): Similar to the Chamber of Commerce, BNI has local chapters all over the country which serve as a conduit for business networking.
Seminars and Retreats: Business seminars offer a great way to meet others who share the same interests.
Be sure to take advantage of this convenient resource, since most people are usually very willing to help someone from their alma mater. If you live in a big city, your university probably has a local chapter. Another place to look is on LinkedIn– your university’s school page has an alumni tab, which breaks down where alumni live, where they work, what they do, and much more. You can easily search keywords or companies and find alumni who work in your industry.
The internet is a great place to search for networking groups and events in your area.
Networking Groups: LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Google all have their own networking groups. I recommend searching for your city in the Groups search bar to identify interesting groups in your local area.
Meetup.com: The world’s largest network of local groups, where anyone can organize a local group, or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.
Eventbrite.com: The world’s largest self-service ticketing platform. Their mission is to bring the world together through live experiences. This is a great resource for identifying networking events in your local area.
Become a Volunteer
If you are an introvert or brand new to networking, volunteering is a great option for meeting new people in a stress-free scenario. Every city in America has non-profit organizations that can be great sources for networking while serving your local community, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Moose, Lions, etc. You can also sign-up to help out at supply chain association events through your local association.
Continue Your Education
All local universities and community colleges offer classes to expand your supply chain network and knowledge without needing to enroll in a degree program. And don’t limit yourself to your career; your hobbies and passions offer great networking potential as well. From Computer Basics to Pottery to Mastering Public Speaking, the options are endless!
Other Professional Associations
You should also check out groups like Toastmasters, whose purpose is to foster public speaking and presentation skills, as well as diversity associations such as Women in Logistics, NBMBAA, or NSHMBA.
These are just a few of the dozens of places to look for professionals to expand your supply chain network.