Discovering the Power of Networking

Jessica Kinman
Director, Industry Solutions
Automatic Summary

The Power of Networking: A Personal Journey with Jessica Ken

May, also known as Military Appreciation Month, seems an apt time to introduce myself. Hello, my name is Jessica Ken. I am proudly representing our military this month as a civil engineer officer in the Washington Air National Guard, having combined skills and experiences from my 20-year career in manufacturing and engineering. Today, I want to share the power of networking that I’ve encountered on my journey, providing tips and tricks to help you harness the same benefits.

The Power of Networking in My Career Path

My unconventional academic journey serves as the starting point for our discussion. Despite being a high school dropout, I went on to earn three college degrees, with a Bachelor's in mechanical engineering, one in business operations and management, and an MBA. This piqued my interest in the radical transformation that the right opportunity can bring.

Starting at Walmart

I set foot in the world of work just like many others, at Walmart while studying at Auburn University. This allows me to state with conviction that every work experience, regardless of where it occurs, contributes to career evolution.

Adventure with Boeing

My career path then took me to Boeing, where I started working as an electrician, used my emerging electrical knowledge, and communicated my interest in team management. As I climbed the ladder, I eventually transitioned to the technology side to help establish processes and technology for their manufacturing teams.

Leap into Global Consulting

Interestingly, networking inside and outside of Boeing led to an opportunity in Global Consulting. This exciting role allowed me to help numerous people with their digital transformation projects while achieving an impressive pay raise.

Excellent takeaways from other ventures

Navigating through other companies, such as AWS and Boo, provided me with more hands-on experience in the industry. Throughout this journey, consistent networking and self-expression created abundant opportunities.

Why You Should Build a Network

Opportunities are paramount. Expressing interest in specific areas prompts your network to alert you to relevant openings that might otherwise have been overlooked. Resources are also crucial. Developing friendships and partnerships with individuals in various fields can foster personal and professional growth.

Other key elements include creating a personal board of advisors to serve as a cheering corner and support and motivation from your network during challenging times.

How Should You Build Your Network?

Choosing who to include in your network may seem daunting, but it boils down to identifying individuals with similar career paths, next-step positions, or like-minded people. Once potential connections have been identified, reach out to them. Participate in industry events, volunteer in relevant areas, and ensure to maintain communication lines.

Evolution of Your Network

It's crucial to remember that your network should evolve with you. Reevaluate the people in your network and check if their current capabilities and positions align with your needs to grow. Remember to always keep the conversation open about your aspirations. Connect others and offer to help when you can.

In conclusion, networking is an incredibly powerful tool that everyone should harness. It's not about just gathering connections; it's about planting relations. And remember, if you have any questions or need assistance, never hesitate to reach out. Happy networking!

Video Transcription

I'm a little untraditional today and this actually fell on one of my military training days. So why not represent in Military Appreciation Month? So I feel like I'm representing pretty good there. Looks like we have a few more adjoining. Perfect.Well, I can go ahead um and just kind of do a little introduction of myself. Uh I, my name is Jessica Ken. Um I have been in industry for manufacturing and engineering for about 20 years now. Um A little all over the place. I'll kind of walk you a little through my career and talk about where kind of that power of networking has helped me out in some of those lessons learned that I've personally run through and then I'll throw a few tips and tricks uh for a few you guys. Um and ladies, so you understand um kind of just where to get started, who to network with um why you should do it and then um what are a few steps and ways to then do that and then we'll talk a little bit about benefits there. So kind of getting into uh where it's helped me out. Um We'll walk through my career path a little bit. Uh So I actually, I kind of have a unique background. Um I am a high school dropout that also has three college degrees. So that's something that's a little unique. Uh I go, it went and took my GED at 16 and went to college going in for engineering. Long story short, I ended up with my, I have a, a bachelor's in mechanical engineering, one in business operations and management.

And then I also have my MB A. Um So it's definitely uh been through school lots of years. Um But kind of through that time, understanding my career. Um I came out and started at just at Walmart. I know that sounds really funny but um asking people kind of what their first job was and what they did, um Walmart was kind of interesting and you'll see kind of these progressions as I've kind of moved throughout my career. Um It was just one of those in Alabama. It was there, there wasn't a lot of opportunities there. So I kind of fell into that one. And then eventually, um when I transferred to Auburn University for school, I had the opportunity of working in a distribution center and worked my way up understanding all of the different roles and positions within the manufacturing facility at the distribution center. Uh They had an opening for a dry shipping uh manager over operations. Uh So that was one, just kind of the need there and having the background I have and voicing that, hey, I'm interested in management and helping out and leading the teams. Um brought me up like at a really young age into kind of my first management position. Um I ended up coming over to Boeing, my dad used to work at Boeing. Um So when he came back to Boeing in 2006, I was like, what am I doing?

Boeing helps pay for school. Uh So that sounds like a great idea. So that was kind of a, a connection through my family where I came out to back out to Boeing. I had a little bit of electrical background. Uh So I started working on the floor as an electrician and worked my way up as a team lead. I got um again, just communicating that I love leading teams and help building people uh that opened up a manufacturing position that I was pulled for as a temporary manager and then ended up going as a person manager through that time and I switched over to the technology side after that um due to some schedules.

Uh So that was something I applied for. Um went through the interview process and then helped kind of that company put together processes and technology to help their manufacturing teams. I both systems was a partner of Boeing on a supplier for uh software for uh mainly their engineering system. So through this, I've been able to establish um network and reach out to people. I've worked with both internally through the company, externally through the company.

And there was an actually there was actually a position here where through my networking with systems, they thought I was a good fit moving into kind of a global consulting role for manufacturing. So again, this kind of came down to me saying, uh I'm, I'm interested in doing something global. I want to help out a lot of people uh with their digital transformation project. And they were like, oh my gosh, like you would leave Boeing and you're interested in this. And I was like, yes, I am. So that opened up again, another opportunity here. And with that obviously came a uh pay raise. I think I left with about a 70% pay raise at this point. Um So very, very good for several years ago and kind of the background um within um I moved up to a director of aerospace position for engineering and manufacturing. Uh again, just reaching out a network in an internal company is really important. A lot of companies have different positions, uh different organizations. So kind of coming into the company and learning what everyone does, you may find a good fit for you there. And that was kind of what I found here. I really enjoyed the global role in helping with business strategy and transformations. Um So again, just reaching internally, finding out what's available within some companies can open up some additional opportunities like it did here. Um Around this time is where I actually came in in the military.

Uh Hence the outfit. Um I am a civil engineer officer in the Washington Air National Guard. So one thing that was very important to me was what are some of the benefits for us as veterans? Um and around my military leave, uh helping out with my family. Um, so if any of you guys are veterans or if you're looking to hire them, um, military differential pay is something very attractive to us. Um, if we are deployed, if we are on orders, generally, what it does is it takes your total comp, they'll take out what you get paid for the military and those employers pay the difference. So where this is really important is while we're on orders, we're not taking a hit in pay. Uh, so there are some companies that military leave is not paid or they don't have that differential pay. So in some cases, uh, they may bring home less money than what they normally make. Uh, so it's a very big, um, it takes a lot of stress off of us, um, as veterans. So that was kind of where Aws came in, uh, having my aerospace background, uh, and being in the Seattle area, there were a few people that knew me, uh, locally and that was kind of how I got into AWS as well with a couple of referrals and them knowing my background uh there within aerospace and then again, kind of moving into boo.

Um I started getting into um speaking at more conferences and about different kind of content. Uh So I had actually worked with uh some of the employees at Boo as an industry expert at some of the conferences. Uh So when they were looking at someone to kind of come on board and lead their manufacturing team, uh And eventually I moved to their Director of Industry Solutions. Uh We, I had had a relationship with some of their global architects. Uh So they were able to see me talk about industry and give some of that insight. So when that position came up, uh they reached out to me as well. And as you guys imagine with that, each kind of step, I'm moving more into the director position and management. Um Again, you know, I can have the comment of getting your pay increase. Um That was here. So not saying I've internally, I've also taken some of these, but what we're gonna talk about kind of overall um is where and how networking can help you out and feel free if you guys have any questions that come up as we're going through this, uh throw those in the chat and I'll get to that.

Um I have a couple of slides here so you guys can screenshot this uh for some tips and tricks and some resources. Uh So this should help you out a little bit. Um But like I said, hopefully this kind of gives you a little bit of how I've kind of network both internally and externally. Um Another example that kind of just timing wise fell is I actually got a layoff notice last Monday. Um That was very unexpected. So, by having my network in, you know, I'm involved in women in manufacturing organizations, I'm involved locally within Washington organizations. Um It allowed me to open out to my network and say, hey, I received the off notice. Yes, the news is terrible. Um But let me know if anyone has an opportunity and the support for my network has been absolutely fantastic. Um So again, just building out that network uh being, having, being able to have support motivation and know of opportunities and resources that you may be looking for.

Um These are things we're gonna kind of talk about and break down in the next step. So why you should build a network? Um Here are four areas that I think um kind of summarize what those are. Um A lot of mine as I went through my journey were around opportunities. So being able to say, hey, these are things I'm interested in. When you see something like this come up, it gives you a lot of eyeballs out there other than just your own. Another area is resources. Uh one thing that was very interesting for me when I took the director position, um finding someone that can kind of help me with my finances. You know, we start digging into benefits and we have 401k s and we have H SAS and you get to a point where it's kind of like, ok, like what's next? Maybe you're interested in investments, maybe you're interested in rental housing, you know. And so for me getting to a point where I actually had a little bit of money and I wanted to look at investments. Um I was able to look within my network and say, hey, who can I gonna start having these conversations with about finances? Um or just areas that I wasn't as strong in as others.

Uh So those are things you want to think about building out a network is not just, you know, career wise, but what are resources, what are gaps that maybe or weaknesses you have that you kind of could phone a someone in your network, phone a friend, get some information from, uh and then kind of moving over to the, the right side.

Um A personal board of advisors, we talk about having advisors for companies uh that can, you can have that mentorship and that guidance. Uh This is something that I think um it is really helpful building out for you yourself. Uh This could, this could potentially be career wise, it could be personal wise. Um but think about who is in your cheer corner or who has that experience that you can reach out to, to guide you as you're going through your own challenges or scenarios that may have been in those before. Um So this is like I said, building out that personal board of advisers to support you there and then just overall support and motivation. Um This is something I really found around our women and manufacturing organization where there are a few people come in and maybe they're applying for a new job or maybe they're nervous about a project. Um Us as a whole within that group are like, you know, you've, you've got this, you've done this, like, you know, we had someone do an er P implementation and it was like you've done this before, you got it, we know it's hectic, we're here if you need to, to scream, yell or um but just having someone there that can kind of pick up when you need that, those, those words of affirmation.

Um and, and that support for you to make yourself uncomfortable. Um It, it's, it's really neat seeing a group come together to support that. Um So this is like I said, kind of four key areas on what you can get of why we should build out a network. A lot of it is support a lot of his opportunities and resources. So think about that as kind of we're going through this and then moving on to the next part on here. Um How should you build that out? So a lot of people is like, where do I get started? What do I want to target down on? First of all, think of who, who you want within your network. Um You can find people in similar positions if you're talking career wise. So maybe someone is kind of similar with you and you want, you want that person to be able to bounce ideas off or say this is a challenge I'm dealing with, you know, like I said, with the er P implementation, maybe they did an er P implementation, maybe they're a new project manager, maybe you're a new project manager.

Uh Maybe it's your first time managing, maybe they, you know, they're kind of in the same boat. So it's kind of someone around the same levels. Um Another option there is also finding people in the next position. So if there's a position you are interested, maybe network can reach out to them to kind of find some information out and guide you on what you could potentially put in place to get you to that position. So that's always um a good area to kind of think about as well and then finding like-minded people. Um So, you know, I was a single mom working and going to school. So having some conversations with stay at home moms, your challenges are very different. So uh looking for people um who are facing similar challenges. Like I said, not just in career, this is personal as well, but then also, you know, when we start getting into finance, uh I'm a saver and I'm a planner. So me hanging out with people that spend everything can be a little bit challenging. So I try to find people who we have common, let's say, values and, and ideas around who we want to be and where we wanna go. Um Those are other people, you could potentially pull into your network and then kind of getting into how um reaching out to individuals. Is there someone out there that you saw that just kind of amazed you and you wanted to know more information, uh reach out to them.

Most people are very open to connect or just, hey, can I have, you know, you want to go out for a cup of coffee, you want to have some conversations online, you know, maybe grab you for 30 minutes to pick your brain. Um Those are really great opportunities. A lot of people are open for and this kind of the second one looking for events that align to these groups of people that you're targeting. Um Like I said, our women in manufacturing events are absolutely fantastic. Um What other industry events do you have? Are there socials, are there industry organizations that may be putting something on? Um Think about where you can go that these people kind of congregate at that you can kind of find and, and integrate yourself into that to start meeting them. Um Volunteering is another one.

So volunteering for a board, volunteering for a project. Um This is another way to kind of reach out uh and find areas within your network um that you can connect to people as well and getting into a little bit um how to use your network. Um So now that we kind of have an idea of who we want, we have an idea of a few tools and resources and how we can reach out to them. Uh What's next? So here are kind of four key areas. Number one, check in with them, don't just connect on linkedin and drop it. Um This is something that I myself need to work on as well. Um Having some type of plan where maybe you check in with three people a month or one a week or something like that where you're constantly reaching out um and staying connected with them and, and following up with them on things and, and checking in as things change. Um So keep in mind what your plan is around that uh Communication is really important. Um Sharing what you're looking for. Um This, this is a big thing, I'd say that has opened up a lot of opportunities for me is just telling people I'm interested in this and if you see it let me know and I've had so many people call and be like, hey, do you remember that conversation we had this came up and, you know, I thought of you and sharing it with you.

Um So sometimes that'll open up opportunities before others see it. So that kind of gives you a leg up as well. Um Number three, connecting others. So think if this is a give and take relationship, uh you want these relationships to be strong. So don't only ask for things also offer within your network, you know, what can I do for you? Is there someone I can connect you with? Is there something you're interested? Um So definitely taking on that active listening and being able to execute from there and then kind of lastly continuing to grow as we go through different stages, your interest may change. So who you network with, you know, 10 years, five years, even maybe two years again, um that you may want to evolve, that they may not be the same people that can help you with what you're doing today. So reevaluate, should you potentially grow in some of these other areas? Um as well? Two minutes left. So I'm going to stop it here and pop back into my screen and pull up the chat and the Q and A um feel free. Do any of you guys have questions or if you wanna throw in kind of where and how you think you're doing with your, with your networking, you know, have you reached out? Is there something you've kind of ran into? Do you have a plan?

Um If you want to throw a few things that have worked well, um I will tackle those this last few minutes. Feel free to ask any questions. Don't be shy. There's, I definitely say there is no wrong or there's no black or white way into how to network the best. We're, we're all different. Some of us takes a little time. We may be a little introverted. So, so bring a friend if you want to go to events. Uh Those are helpful. Um One on one sometimes works a little better if you're a little shy versus kind of tackling everyone with one group. Uh So hopefully those are some tips there. So I don't see any questions yet. If you guys have anything, feel free to throw it in there. Let's see one. What tips do you have on determining whether a connection is worthwhile to maintain? Oh, this is a good one. I think what do you want out of it? So there are, there are a couple of my connections that I follow with often. Um Is it a connection? So mentorship, for example, that might be something one and done doesn't really work well. So if, if there's a way you guys can't quite connect and figure out how to do that. Um Maybe it's not the right mentor for you.

Um So there, like I said, some of some of them, some of the connections I have or um in around those resources and gaps. Um Those are things have, have they per kind of come back when you ask questions? Do they respond quickly or is it something that takes forever? Um keep those in mind? Um So definitely think about what you want out of the relationship and if that person's fitting it, if they're not, if you can't communicate that, then maybe decide if communication does help with it, do it. If not, then that's ok as well. So I think that wraps up our time here. Um Thank you guys for joining me. Uh Feel free to connect with me on linkedin. Uh Reach out if you have any questions in the meantime and thank you again for attending our session on networking. Have a great afternoon, everyone.