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Improve Your Personal Supply Chain

In the supply-chain industry, you strive daily to improve the productivity, but have you thought about your personal supply chain? Regardless of the industry, relationships play a key role. Adding “spice” to your your job means building meaningful relationships in your personal supply chain.

We've all been told that networking is important to our careers. Your introduction is the first step to putting spice in your job. It's that little extra to make the job better.

When you say you are a logistics manager, does that mean you manage planes, trains, or automobiles? Titles are often misleading. A project manager can be very different in a telecom than in consumer products.

As a “career engineer,” I've heard plenty of introductions, mostly inadequate, when making that first contact. Maybe you think your neighbor or new daughter-in-law is asking what you do to be polite, but don't miss the opportunity to engage with others. Simply responding, “I'm in purchasing” doesn't tell the story. You need to supply enough information to improve your own personal supply chain.

The Rack

We've all been told that networking is important to our careers.  Your introduction is the first step to putting spice in your job.

We've all been told that networking is important to our careers.
Your introduction is the first step to putting spice in your job.

Why?
Trust is my best answer. If “John” understands your credentials and work ethics in purchasing, your value to the other person has increased. We want to trust new people in our lives, and with the fast pace in our work world, engagement with others adds considerable trust in a new relationship. Later, if you happen to need information, a favor, a recommendation, someone to call, there's your spice! You both have a taste of who you are and what you do.

Be specific
Saying only that you are “in supply chain” is not sufficient. In a recent book by Terri Sjodin, she masterfully provides a three-point process, which we all learned in Speech 101, but often neglect:

  1. Get attention; don't be boring. “I make sure your oregano comes in a shatterproof bottle.”
  2. Describe what you do in approximately three points or three sentences. “I'm actually in purchasing where I source glass bottles for XYZ company. Our company sells spices in huge quantities to the food industry. You probably have one or more of the bottles I purchased in your kitchen.”
  3. Summarize or call to action. “I'd be curious to know if you've used our products. Maybe, if I see you at the next meeting, you can tell me whether my brands are in your kitchen.”

Sjodin's book, titled “Small Message, Big Impact” provides practical suggestions for being persuasive and authentic. Marketing and sales professionals often receive training to be effective, yet they may forget how important that first impression is. Regardless of industry, the first few minutes can make or break the opportunity for a new person in your life.

Other ideas
A perfect opportunity for adding to your personal supply chain could be speaking to an unemployment group. John Q. Public often doesn't understand the breadth of opportunities in supply chain or other industries. You may be able to help fill an opening in your department with a referral from the event.

LinkedIn, of course, is a powerful tool for business professionals to network. Perhaps you will be attending an upcoming professional conference. You may want to look at the profiles of the other speakers to gain ideas for talking points with possible new colleagues.

Always carry business cards but don't just shove the card into someone's hand. This is an opportunity for a 30-second “commercial” that encourages remembering you.

Taking a class to improve your skills is a double whammy for adding new people to your personal supply chain. Learning new methods will improve your job while adding networking contacts.

Adding people to your personal supply chain adds spice in your job. Creating your own personal supply chain is not just adding people, but adding people that you get to know!

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— Ruth Glover, Career Engineer and Entrepreneur, owns Career Consultations, a career counseling firm which dares to be different.

20 comments on “Improve Your Personal Supply Chain

  1. Brian Fuller
    March 28, 2013

    Ruth, as always, a lot of great advice here. The one that strikes me in the most “aha!” way is the business-card reference. How hugely important that is and how often we overlook the elevator pitch at that moment in the greeting. 

    The card is invariably stuffed in a pocket and, if you're lucky, gets converted into that person's database. But the oral messaging will last much longer and increase the likelihood that you'll end up on that person's contact list. 

    I can't remember the last time I met someone who was really good at that (and I'm no king at it either!). 

     

  2. Ruth Glover
    March 28, 2013

    Thank you, Bryan.  Maybe some of our readers will add their suggestions for adding to their personal supply chain.

     

  3. prabhakar_deosthali
    March 29, 2013

    The supply chain professionals are normally not sales people. So it is natural that they won't have the networking skills as good as the sales and marketing professionals. But they have other assets with them – the buyers in them are normally good bargainers whereas the suppliers are good negotiators and they know how to offer a very good bargain to a buyer and still make a good profit.

    Such skills can come handy while negotiating for job offers in my opinion.

  4. Ruth Glover
    March 29, 2013

    Good point.  I don't think the person's title matters nearly as much as attitude and relevant experience for the job.  

  5. FLYINGSCOT
    March 29, 2013

    I agree with many points in your post.  One thing I'd like to add is it takes many years to build a strong high quality personal supply chain and I am concerned that social media sites may devalue that chain as people become your “friends” willy nilly. 

  6. Brian Fuller
    March 29, 2013

    @flyingscot, that's an important point. 

    A few years ago, in between jobs here at UBM Tech, I worked for some months as a consultant and freelancer. I had spent several years building up social media “cred” and looked to social media to network and mine for work. 

    Turns out that most of the assignments/projects I worked on came from people I knew already. The social media “cred” was a nice part of the “spice rack” but not a useful networking tool (at the time). 

     

  7. Ruth Glover
    March 29, 2013

    Bryan and Flying Scot, 

    Sometimes using LinkedIn depends on the industry and what you do.  Some industries, like semiconductor, use it more than others.  LinkedIn keeps changing to try to improve, as all of us should, but the “Endorsements” make me nervous as anyone can endorse someone else without actually knowing the individual.  

    Recommendations are more meaningful as you can approve them and not post if you don't want one to go to the world.  However, recommendations are not the same as your references list you take to an interview.  I've had candidates not want to submit references, stating, “Just use my LinkedIn recommendations.”  Most recruiters prefer a reference and background check.

  8. Himanshugupta
    March 29, 2013

    Ruth, i very much liked the example you gave in your post about telling about you job. It all depends on how you approach the question asked to you and how enthusiastic are you in answering it. Giving a personal touch always helps in building relationships and the first contact makes a long lasting impression.

  9. Himanshugupta
    March 29, 2013

    @Prabhakar, those in supply chain would know how to get a job done. They might not give a sharp pitch to clients like sales people or convince the client like marketing people but they know whom to contact and how to approach a person or team to complete the task. So, i guess every job needs some kind of special skill to excel in that field.

  10. Ruth Glover
    March 29, 2013

    You are absolutely on target!

  11. Taimoor Zubar
    March 30, 2013

    One thing I'd like to add is it takes many years to build a strong high quality personal supply chain and I am concerned that social media sites may devalue that chain as people become your “friends” willy nilly”

    @Flyingscot: I think it depends on which social networking tool you use for career networking. Tools like Linked-In give you a professional image and give out a good impression if you contact a recruiter or another corporate person whereas Facebook or Twitter is not considered that professional.

  12. Taimoor Zubar
    March 30, 2013

    So it is natural that they won't have the networking skills as good as the sales and marketing professionals”

    @Prabhakar: I think interpersonal skills are important for every professional regardless of whethere they're into sales and marketing or not. Yes, it's a common tendency for marketing and sales people to be more outspoken and extrovert but this should not be used as an excuse by other professionals to avoid developing interpersonal skills.

  13. HM
    March 31, 2013

    How about starting social networking site especially designed for supply chain folks

  14. Houngbo_Hospice
    March 31, 2013

    “Saying only that you are “in supply chain” is not sufficient.”

    Very true, it is not useful to look like the Jack of all trades in the suppy chain business. Be specific about what you do, and go to the point in your communication with potential clients.

  15. Houngbo_Hospice
    March 31, 2013

    @HM,

    How about starting social networking site especially designed for supply chain folks

    Good idea, but many other social networking platforms are already being used by every kinds of businesses, including those in the supply chain industry. Why do you think that the supply chain folks would need a designated social networking site?

  16. HM
    March 31, 2013

    Its not that easy to have such a dedicated site imagine people uploading all recent photos on supply chain issues sharing lessons learnt and having debates i know there are many social networking sites but they are focussed on friends and family updates

  17. Houngbo_Hospice
    March 31, 2013

    @HM,

    We will see if anyone will be interested in the idea. Maybe we can start a conversation on the site the gauge the relevance of a building a social networking site dedicated to the Supply Chain industry. 

  18. Ashu001
    March 31, 2013

    Houngbo,

    I would have to concur with what you are saying here.

    And besides its very difficult for most Consumers to maintain more than one Social media Network today;why have so many disparate-Disparate ones when One[LinkedIn] can do the existing job most efficently?

    Regards

    Ashish.

  19. Himanshugupta
    March 31, 2013

    Having a community for supply chain professionals make sense like a linkedIn community or a facebook page. There are similar pages for other professionals. 

  20. Ruth Glover
    March 31, 2013

    I'm enjoying your comments.  Did you know you can start your own LinkedIn group centered around your particular interest on LinkedIn?  I just queried the Groups and there are almost 5000 groups you could join on LinkedIn that revolve around Logistics and Supply Chain.  

    If you want personal visibility, you might consider joining one or more where you could participate online. That's another good way to “meet” new people in your field across the world.  Be sure you don't comment just to comment, but participate in the dialogue, adding value.  Once you've joined a LinkedIn group, you can connect with others more readily. 

     

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