In these tough times, stay connected

By Michael Ivanovich, Editor-in-Chief February 1, 2009

In reading news stories about these tough economic times and in talking to numerous engineers and manufacturers in the field, I’ve become aware that we’re all standing at the edge of our own abyss, and all of our abysses are connected.

For some, what keeps them awake at night is a business loan they cannot get to meet payroll. For others, it’s the people they have to face to lay them off. And for others, it’s having been laid off or the fear of getting laid off. And for many more, it’s carrying on without one or more co-workers who are no longer with the company and who won’t be replaced.

We really don’t know what’s next, except we’ll be asked to do more with less. We’re dealing with emotions on a mass scale we haven’t seen since 9/11: Despair, fear, anger. We got through 9/11 by communicating more, and more deliberately. Eventually, the gears of society meshed, the economy regained momentum, and we resumed our frenetic pace.

Now that we’re back to a state where people need to get reconnected again, here are a few recommendations to get you going:

Pick up the phone when people call, and call people back right away if you miss them.

Find something to congratulate your staff and team for; be more frequent with positive remarks.

Schedule time in your calendar to check in with personal and professional networks, even your older contacts.

Once a week, ask your boss if there’s anything you can do to help.

Communicate internally so you know what’s going on around you and your company.

Share cost-cutting ideas and let management know about barriers and inefficiencies.

Stay in touch locally by going to local chapter meetings of industry associations.

Participate in a corporate mentoring program or brown-bag luncheons.

Post comments on blogs or online articles; participate in online industry forums.

Enable people to find you and your company by keeping your company’s website up to date. Visit the websites of other companies.

Cull online and hard copy subscriptions you no longer read and find new ones that meet your needs. Ask your colleagues what they’re finding useful. Pass around good articles.

Get visible: write technical articles and columns for industry publications, including electronic newsletters.

Attend webcasts, webinars, and other online events.

As you do these things, you’ll perhaps find yourself more cognizant and in control of the bigger picture, and you’ll widen and strengthen your networks. The more connected your are, the better off you’ll be no matter how things turn out.

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