Two Engaging Ideas: A Program Celebrating Women Leaders and a Popular Member Forum 

I’ve written about Putman Media’s wonderful Influential Women in Manufacturing (IWIM) before, their innovative program that honors women who are effecting change in manufacturing and industrial production. But when I check back every couple months, there’s always something new and positive. This time it’s an eBook.

Now in its fourth year and run by the amazing Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman, IWIM succeeds in many ways—celebrating key Putman customers, amplifying the voices of women in a field where they have been under-represented, creating a new speaker pool for podcasts and webinars, and now offering advice to the next generation.

In that eBook that Hallstrom put together, she asks each of the 20 honorees this: What advice would you give to women entering the field of manufacturing?

A couple snippets:

“Never stop learning. Even after being in the industry for over 25 years, I’m still learning new things. Manufacturing is an ever-changing industry full of complex processes and procedures that will challenge you to leave your comfort zone. This is where a strong network of diverse thinkers will prove invaluable.”
Cindy Jaudon, Regional President, Americas, IFS

“Don’t be afraid to ask for the roles you want. Be prepared, though, to co-invest in your future by accepting the positions that will get you there. That may mean embracing risk by taking tough positions—the ones your peers are afraid to accept or the ones that move your family across the world. In other words: the roles you never imagined taking!”
Joanna Garcia Sohovich, Chamberlain Group

“I feel small when I look at all [these women have] been doing and all they do for their companies,” Hallstrom said. “You can see how excited their companies are. I just get excited that someone enjoys it.”

She also runs the judging, which had to go through almost 100 nominations last year. In the past, they’ve received a formal proclamation from the governor of Illinois, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote a commendation. “…we just wanted to honor women making a name for themselves,” Hallstrom has humbly said.

When we talk about customer engagement, what can be better than recognizing—and energizing—an entire faction of your audience that has mostly gone unnoticed? If a publisher or media company can hear from women like Garcia Sohovich and Jaudon, then beneficial outcomes will take place.

A post this week by Matt Cipriani on the ASAE site led me to AACP Connect, an online community platform for members of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. It’s impressive. Right up top there’s an excellent idea: “Submit a Poster Abstract for Virtual Pharmacy Education 2021.” Involve your audience in your big event. That’s followed by two recent discussions: Order Oath of a Pharmacist and Upcoming Free Training Webinars.

“Our members began using AACP Connect at higher rates than ever before when we all locked down in mid-March [last year],” writes Cipriani. “Why? Because they had an established virtual community they were already using for the past few years. Our members were able to jump right into a familiar place with familiar people to discuss new challenges and gain insight and knowledge from each other about how to navigate this new reality.”

Even though it is tempting for those of us who do not have such a vehicle to jump quickly in, Cipriani urges patience. It’s much better to first assess your member needs and then build something that addresses those and avoids any clunkyness. Here’s more:

First define your online community. Do you need one community or a few? Will Person A in Company B want to hear from Person C from Company D? “Consider surveying your members or holding online focus groups to determine what it is your members need in an online community,” he writes.

Define your metrics. Is it the number of people in the group, the number of conversations, the quality of those conversations, the ideas that come out of it? “Set up a reporting system early to capture metrics that identify member usage of the platform. By creating a set of categories to monitor such as total discussions and replies posted, logins, and email open rates, you can track usage of the platform.”

Publicize and market it. Give it a build-up. Offer an incentive to join—perhaps polls, surveys, quizzes, contests, discounts. “You want to generate excitement around the platform so that when you launch, members will eagerly log in for the first time, browse the platform, and begin contributing,” Cipriani writes.

I would add to join a couple groups on your own to see how they function so you can take the best out of those.  Joanne Persico of ONEcount has been holding Wednesday evening virtual get-togethers called Stay Connected – Bold Minds Mixer for several months now. The one I attended was informative, fun and well-run. Email Persico to join in.

“The way our members network, connect and share will forever be changed by this experience,” Cipriani concludes.

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