Becoming “Socially Accepted” in the Finishing World

Products Finishing’s new LinkedIn plating group provides insight from the “Top Shops.”


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I’ve never been accused of having great social skills (with a lower case s), but I’ve certainly gotten better in recent years at my other Social skills (with a capital S).

Following the trend set by two experts in the field—my 18- and 15-year-old daughters—I have slowly joined the digital age of Social Media, albeit not without trepidation and uncertainty about whether I should indeed “tweet” where I’m sitting at an NFL game, lest I be accused of boastfulness for having scored 20-yard-line seats for a meaningless game that attracted about as many people as show up to WalMart at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

That said, I have always been a big fan of LinkedIn and all the interesting and unique features that it brings to today’s business professional. Being able to network with those with common interests—be it plating, powder coating, anodizing or mechanical finishing—makes this online service a true benefit when you’re sometimes not even sure what the other services do. So it was that idea—networking—that led us here at Products Finishing to start our own LinkedIn group to better communicate and reach those who we value the most: our readers.

As an editor, I do attend my fair share of industry gatherings and conferences, which gives me the chance to talk to dozens of professionals and shop owners about their business and their interests, all things necessary to be able to meet our goal of giving readers what they need—or maybe even don’t know they need—in order to compete, gain market share and grow their businesses.

Talking with job shop owners is one of the true joys I have in this job. I get no-nonsense information and intelligence that tells me what the “temperature” of the industry is, and essentially what is important to those who work in the sector I write about.

So when I started perusing through my LinkedIn account recently, it dawned on me what a great tool it would be to form a group of the top job shop owners in each of the finishing disciplines as a way to gauge interest, get feedback, maybe survey the masses every now and then, and generally keep close tabs on what is important—and not important—to the readers we serve.

I started out forming a plating group of the top shops in the U.S. I invited owners and managers that I have come across, and so far have built the list up to a few dozen who are providing me great feedback, resourceful insight and overall no-holds-bar input on how things are shaping up in the plating industry.

I’ve deliberately kept out plating suppliers and manufacturers, because I wanted to set up a private forum where like-minded business owners of finishing shops could share ideas, swap stories, give their opinions and gain insight into the world of plating.

My goal is to get this group up to a few hundred of the top plating job shop and even OEM plating shop managers, just because I want to get a good cross-section of diverse opinions and ideas when I want to ask the group a question, survey their thoughts and even bounce ideas.

If you would like to join me and the top plating job shops, drop me a line at tim.pennington@PFonline.com or look me up on LinkedIn. Again, it’s a private group with private discussions and opinions, so you’ll need to be invited in.

I hope to post some “60-second surveys” of the group’s members from time to time, which I think will give folks great insight into the pulse of the industry. I hope the group members will find the discussion points informative and helpful to running their businesses.

As we continue to get this plating group up and running, also look for groups featuring the top powder coating, anodizing and electrocoating shops, and others.

Overall, this project will certainly help me with my

social skills. Now if I can just remember which fork is used for salads, I’ll truly come of age. n