Workforce Development and a Networking Mindset

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Is effective networking a skill or a mindset? I can remember the anxiety I felt around my first few networking events in the electronics industry when my skills weren’t as honed as they are now. I wondered, “How will I remember everyone’s names? Will I be nervous to approach strangers and start a conversation? What will we talk about?” It was always a highly stressful situation for me, and I bet many of you can relate to this.

While I fully believe it helps to develop some skills in these situations—for example, don’t cross your arms and frown, or don’t stand in the corner with your eyes glued to your phone—I’d like to address a networking mindset and how that relates to workforce development and recruitment.

Our industry is in a dire position; a very significant number of jobs will be unfilled over the next few years. So, when looking at our workforce development and recruitment efforts, it’s imperative to understand the landscape. We must create interest, engagement, and partnerships with multiple organizations and with individuals. This is a nationwide challenge that will not be resolved in a silo.

We can and should create a network that goes beyond the industry. Networking has traditionally been seen as a way to advance your career, build friendships to collectively solve industry challenges, and to mentor those new to the industry. However, it’s even more important that we expand our network to include academia, and state and local governments as we recruit talent and build a renewed interest in our vital electronics manufacturing industry.

Our enthusiastic industry veterans are sharing what gets them excited to come to work. Many of our subject matter experts have made themselves available to a new workforce. How can we amplify this enthusiasm and knowledge sharing?

SMTA has structured programs through local chapter meetings, regional expos, and national and international conferences that bring people together. These opportunities allow individuals and companies to expand their connections and create relationships at all levels, and this can be a true differentiator in a workforce development crisis.

I recently heard this phrase: “Create an environment that first drives interest in our industry and then drives an employee’s investment to stay.” It has resonated with me and left me asking important questions about what more we need to do, and how and where we can help.

I believe we must combine forces; a partnership among industry, academia, and government entities will create a more far-reaching impact than an individual agency.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the May 2023 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.


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