The Necessity of Networking


In August, Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing hosted the annual Manufacturers’ Expo at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. This was a day filled with interesting speakers, informative break-out sessions, booths featuring the various wares of manufacturers and their vendors, and yes, networking. We hear this word a lot in the professional world, but it can take on a range of meanings, so much so that sometimes we wonder-what actually is networking? Today on Profession Concession, we’re unpacking what it means to network and giving you our top three tips to make your netWORKing time more productive for you, and your company (while still having fun of course!).

Research around the term “networking” got us thinking about why we use this term when talking about so many of our business and social interactions. Business Dictionary defines networking as “Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit“. We like this definition because it points out the importance of establishing symbiotic networking practices. Sometimes in the context of a job search, networking can be mutated to a form of opportunistic enterprising, an aggressive attempt at finding a mentor, landing your dream job and compiling a long list of people of whom you can ask a favor down the road….While it’s definitely cool to meet people in your field and even call on them for advice in times of need, it’s important to remember that networking is like a conversation, it’s a two-way street, where both people should be valued. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up three hot networking tips to help you out at your next trade show, work dinner, meeting and more!

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1. Don’t be a parasite-Quick and dirty. Do not go into a room looking for someone to give you something, do something for you or solve your problems. Networking is about forming a vast web of authentic bonds based on mutual interests, responsibilities and industries. The point is, your goal shouldn’t be to gain anything quantifiable in your networking experiences. Instead, focus on being yourself, putting your most professional face forward and seeing what you can do for others! Then when you really do need a favor, people will be glad to help you out…

2. Treat the intern like the CEO-The intern might be running the place someday. If you smile and schmooze with the “important people” and completely ignore lower-level employees, you are walking a dangerous path (for your professional reputation that is). Of course, this tip is related to the first in the sense that, you shouldn’t only talk to the people who can do something for you. Treat everyone you encounter with the same level of professionalism and respect. Ask questions. Convey true interest in what people say when they’re talking. You’ll soon find that the intern has the ear of the manager that you’d like to get a meeting with…or you’ll find someone YOU might be able to help out in their professional journey.

3. Come bearing your gifts -This doesn’t mean that you have to walk around with a pocket full of presents for folks you encounter. In fact, you don’t need anything at all except your natural gifts and hard-earned skills. Keeping with the theme of giving more than we expect to receive, you’ll find that through offering up ways that you may be able to uniquely help an individual or company will catapult your career into overdrive! We are all busy and stressed out, so imagine how great it would feel if someone in conversation offered to take a look at a problem that has been a thorn in your side, great right?! If you work to show off your talent and willingness to help to people, it won’t soon be forgotten.

Networking can be tricky. We’re navigating the murky waters of professional relationships and trying to balance our own goals with the motivations of others. Like in most things, if you be yourself and demonstrate an air of egalitarian professionalism you won’t lose in your networking endeavors! You’ll form the lasting bonds that make a career all based on your own authenticity.

What are your networking tips? Share with us!


Photos from SVAM’s 2016 Manufacturers’ Expo; for more on the event, visit 



We are #MadeinSWVA

Made in southwest Virginia launch video!

Made in SWVA 5 (1)This week, we’re changing things up! Recently, SVAM developed a new campaign focused on highlighting manufacturing across our beautiful region…in celebration of this new endeavor, we created a launch video for #MadeinSWVA. We revealed the video at the 2016 Manufacturer’s Expo last week (stay tuned for a special post on the expo!), and were pleased to hear an enthusiastic response from those in attendance.

Today, we are officially publicly releasing the video for you and all of southwest Virginia to enjoy! We hope that you learn a little bit about just a few of the amazing manufacturers from around our region and are excited to learn more about the industry. Without further delay, head over to YouTube and check it out!


Not Your Grandparents’ Factory


Manufacturing is one of the largest employment sectors in the global economy, and many jobs that aren’t on the factory floor are related to or exist because of manufacturing. Yet, even with a presence that reaches even some of the most rural areas and encompasses the full spectrum of goods we use daily, manufacturing still struggles with image confusion. At SVAM, our goal is to lift the veil on manufacturing and its vast opportunity. One of the biggest misconceptions we face when educating southwest Virginia communities about manufacturing is that the work is boring and that there isn’t much opportunity to interact with exciting new technology. Today, we’re dedicating our post to demonstrating some of the characteristics of “the new” manufacturing. Inspired by an interview SVAM participated in on NPR’s WVTF Not your grandparents’ factory, we’re going to show you why today’s manufacturing, is your manufacturing.

  1. Manufacturing is poised to grow in southwest Virginia-According to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, manufacturing is ready to grow in our region! With over 400 manufacturers in the broader southwest Virginia area, there are companies of all shapes and sizes, who make a variety of products, ready to grow their production and workforce! While a changing economy means there has been some shifting in the manufacturing workforce of the region, the opportunities aren’t gone, they’re just different. These shifts require adjustments, but our region is working through re-education and advanced training to ensure that we can meet the needs of today’s industry.
  2. Manufacturing needs highly-skilled employees-The majority of manufacturers in southwest Virginia and beyond, say that their biggest problem is having the number of qualified workers that they need to keep up with production demands! That means that there are jobs out there! You just have to be sure that you are properly trained to be an asset to the companies around our region. Local community colleges and the SVAM Center of Excellence offer programs specifically designed for growing a knowledgeable manufacturing workforce here at home.
  3. Manufacturing is a high-tech career field-We all know that technology has changed the way we live, work and play. Manufacturing is no exception to this evolution in our society. Technology ranging from robotics, to lasers and 3D printing are becoming essential to the manufacturing sector. This development further impacts the need for highly trained manufacturing employees skilled in operating complex equipment. Interaction with technology is a great reason for younger job-seekers and students to consider this industry as a career path.
  4. Manufacturing offers competitive pay and benefits-Manufacturing employees earn about 30% more than their service-industry counterparts overall. Over 90% of manufacturing jobs provide some sort of health and/or retirement benefits. While benefits may not seem as tangible as the cold hard cash when you consider job offers, you’ll end up taking home more of your pay and saving for your future because of healthcare and retirement benefits provided by your employer.
  5. Manufacturing is a changing work environment-We keep it real at Profession Concession, so we aren’t trying to paint an unrealistic picture of manufacturing. We know that we’ve struggled with the decline of the coal economy in our region, but we do say that southwest Virginia is on the precipice of huge opportunity, and a lot of that opportunity is in a shifting manufacturing environment! Millions of baby boomers are set to retire in the coming years, and it’s time to pass the torch on to the next generation who are going to use modern technologies to continue to build on the strong manufacturing foundation in our region!


Do you have questions about manufacturing in southwest Virginia? Comment below!