What a difference a year can make, especially with an energetic, collaborative group of manufacturers working together. In 2020, the #USAMfgHour chat on Twitter began to help manufacturers and other businesses find ways to learn, network, and promote together on social media and beyond. Dan Bigger from Chenango Valley Technologies, a custom injection molding and tooling company in New York and a #USAMfgHour chat founder, hosted an anniversary chat this week to cover successes and goals for growth in 2021.
Learning and Growing
Bigger began the chat by asking the group to guess how many #USAMfgHour chat hosts there were in 2020, what attendees enjoy about the chat and any assistance needs to host a chat in the future.
“I enjoyed chatting. I stopped counting,” said Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing. “Learned a lot of things from everyone. Would love to hear from the group.”
“I have no idea, but I enjoyed them all,” said Lermit Diaz of SCTools. “Sharing my experience and knowledge.”
“We've hosted a couple of times and we love the energy of this chat! It's always good to hear what everyone is up to, especially the past year,” said Christine Torres of Graphic Products. “Our goal was to contribute by being supportive and encouraging.”
“Not sure when it started so I'll take a wild guess and say 10,” said Sherri of WiscoLift, who has not yet hosted a #USAMfgHour chat but, with a notebook in hand, looks forward to hosting this year. “I have offered to lead one for ‘Ergonomics in the Workplace.’”
“My wild guess is 25 hosts in 2020,” said Rebecca Hart of DSI/Dynamatic. “I hosted earlier this year and really enjoyed it! It moves quickly, so you must be on your toes, but it's so great to get all kinds of perspectives!”
“I really enjoyed hearing all the different opinions on the topic that I hosted, and then being able to relate and implement it back into our business,” said Obsidian Manufacturing Industries.
“I'm not aware of how big the reach is in this community exactly, but I do know we have participants from all over the U.S. and in other parts of the world!,” said Dynamatic.
There were 32 hosts for #USAMfgHour in 2020 that shared topics from safety to COVID-19 challenges to simple brand management. The success has attracted nearly 100 participants and an already impressive lineup of manufacturers eager to host in 2021. Rusine reports that the chat received more than three-quarters of a million in reach impact for the year and alone about 210,000 in the last chat of 2020.
“We love hosting,” said Bigger. “We like bringing topics to the forefront to share our knowledge with the group for the benefit of all. We can all learn from each other.” Bigger hosted a chat on MEP’s - Here is a chat we did on How MEPs Benefit Manufacturers.
“As much as hosting is fun, this is really about the participants and what we can learn and share with each other,” he said during the chat. “This is a group that is willing to share and collaborate. Sharing is caring and we are all better together.”
In building a community of collaboration, it is all about how we all can work together, Bigger explained. He asked if any of the participants are actively taking their Twitter business networking relationships offline to help one another and to share any success stories.
“Definitely took some biz relationships offline and it's been extraordinarily helpful,” said Dynamatic. “I believe that together, we're better as a whole. There's not much use in thinking that everyone's your competition. Even competition can be helpful. Even if you're not in mfg, there are some very helpful folks here in the marketing, advertising, social media spaces! I've gotten some great ideas from them.”
“I did make one contact for support (thanks Ruby), but there was no one in our group who was knowledgeable,” said WiscoLift. “I did get it figured out finally. If we have a need for anyone's service, I would use it for sure.”
“I've had a couple of great conversations, which have been developing into good relationships,” said Paul Kiesche of Aviate Creative.
“I have connected with many on LinkedIn also,” said Phil Samuels, a specialist in industrial sales and marketing for industrial manufacturers.
“I'm not in the manufacturing space, but love all of you that are,” said Beth from Home Building Solutions. “Definitely have made friends in this group, and it's made working from home so much better!”
The goal of any organization and marketing department is to get the word out about your company and to be seen by current and future clients, Bigger said. “The more you are seen the better off you are. Together we can help each other.”
With 2020 in the rearview mirror, businesses and individuals all learned a lot about what we did right and what we did wrong. The key to it all is learning from it all and to keep everything moving forward. Bigger then took those thoughts and asked about the #USAMfgHour chat: “What are we doing right? Where can we do a better job? How can we help each other more? All suggestions welcome.”
“I think you are all doing a great job,” said WiscoLift. “I wish Twitter looked more like YouTube so you could read the questions and see everyone's answers to the right of them.”
“Maybe some chat follow-ups,” said Graphic Products. “(Following) the MEP chat, we could talk about who has started using them after the chat and how it's going, etc. Same for the ISO chat or improving signs, etc.”
“We just need to continue to promote the event,” said Samuels. “One standard time may be an issue for someone with a standing conflict. Do we know how many folks review the summary on Twitter and LI?”
“We are very good at engaging each other and responding. Is there a master list of companies and contacts? I think the Zoom meeting would be great,” said Nick Rivers from Obsidian Manufacturing.
“Community engagement and support are outstanding,” said Kiesche. “I'm in a lot of groups, and #usamfghour stands above all. We're starting the live networking soon, so that's exciting! Consistency of the #USAMfgHour brand could use improvement, so maybe I can help there.”
“One good support was the @ASI_Wheels chat (Women in Manufacturing),” said Graphic Products. “They hosted a live video on Facebook while performing the chat, sharing the details, questions, responses, etc. It was great.”
“The list of companies is on the @USAMfgHourChat page,” said Bigger. He and a few others are working on a Zoom event at a future date.
“We are very open to suggestions and everyone's voice counts,” Bigger said. “We are a team and we will never lose that foundation. One way is to use the hashtag for off-chat posts such as announcements or news. So we can share and celebrate together.”
“Absolutely, we'll get more info out about that live networking soon,” said Kiesche.
“Yep! We have to finalize some details first,” said Jen Wegman of Insight Info Solutions.
“Great question! I think this community is doing a lot of things right,” said 360 Outcome. “We can continue to strengthen our network through these chats as well as other networking chats here and maybe do an invite a friend to increase the following.”
2020 was an adventure for all of us. Nobody was exempt and we all got through it together. There were ups and there were downs, but we all learned. The question is what did you learn? How will you apply what you learned? What are your goals for 2021? They can be personal or company goals. How can we as a team help you to achieve them?
“I learned that when I need help or just an ear; I can reach out to others,” said Kirsten Austin of DCSC Inc. “I used to keep that all bundled up inside. We all support each other here.”
“Don't take anything for granted because it can get taken away at any moment,” said Neil Hussey of Truturn Precision. “With a great network around you, you'll find a new job easier than you think. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Plan to within an inch of your life!”
“I'm aiming high in 2021. My goals are focused on growing my company. I'm also working to gain more credibility & exposure within manufacturing,” said Kiesche. “If you know a manufacturer that could use help with their design, writing, branding or creative, I'd love a referral.”
“There you go talking about goals and important stuff again,” said Rivers. “I mean, I go on a diet and Pub Burgers, bacon and cheese start following me around! I guess my personal goal is to eat healthier this year, maybe find a lady – I’m just happy to be working!”
“Lesson here was...never get too comfortable because things CAN CHANGE,” said 360 Outcome.
“2020 was not fun, but it was not bad either. We made many new friends and assisted in getting this chat up and running,” said Bigger. “Company-wise, CVT grew and added new customers, machinery, personnel, and we look forward to an expansion in ’21. Expand and strengthen our marketing message. Find new/right customers to add sales. Building more relationships for the future.”
Many thanks to all of you that participate and host with us to grow this chat. We can do great things together. We look forward to a great year working with all of you.
Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.
Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @CVTPlastics, @DCSCinc, and @SocialSMktg.