Koenect Goes to Jack Craft Fair by Janine Maslowsky
We had the pleasure of attending the 4th Annual Jack Craft Fair located in the Outer Harbor in downtown Buffalo, NY. It was a beautiful Saturday in August, with the waterfront of Lake Erie on one side and the old grain silos on the other.
The power in giving back: So once again, I am in line at the drive thru at one of the many Tim Horton coffee shops here in Buffalo. As has happened more times than I can actually count on both hands, I pull up to the window to pay and am greeted with the words that the person in front of me has paid for my coffee. I instantly begin to ponder why and might even get a little paranoid until I realize that they just wanted to buy me a cup a coffee. Maybe it is with the hopes that I might want to share the feeling I am currently having with someone else …that I might want to buy a coffee for the person behind me and pay if forward. Well it works, maybe too well.
Here at Koenect we believe that giving back is part of our culture, we are a community built on passion driven connections and we promote a collaborative working relationship between members. So why not offer a skill to another member that shares a passion and interest to yours or help support a project they are working on. That might encourage them to do the same…..That’s Koenect-ing it Forward.
Mud-USA and Endless Innovations have different skill sets and passions and as these two members demonstrate, there are many ways to Koenect it Forward. Mud-USA was a designer and manufacture of high end cycling components Made in the USA. One of the core values that Mud-USA held high was promoting the understanding and appreciation for US Manufacturing. The shop was comprised of a Coffee shop/Bike shop that opened up into the design and manufacturing space. This offered the consumer the ability to tour the shop and observe the actual manufacturing of the components they could potentially purchase. All with the intention of bringing awareness to the design and manufacturing process. This effort was highlighted even more when Mud was asked to help a graduate student, Lucas Mesmer at the University at Buffalo collect manufacturing data to support his thesis. The study is titled: Enabling supplier discovery through a part-focused manufacturing process ontology, I know right. But basically the paper presents a new approach to process and manufacturer discovery through the use of part features and characteristics developed in an engineering ontology called: Part-Focused Manufacturing Process Ontology (PMPO).
So in this example of Koenect-ing it forward, Mud-USA discussed the process utilized to produce the Nth-Degree Stems (see sections 4.2 and 4.2.1 of the study) based on the design features. This offering was to disclose the rational for the selection of the machine tool technology and manufacturing methods that made this product producible in the US and how the features on the parts drove the machine tool selection process. To help further support the Part-focused Manufacturing Process Ontology study, additional process evaluations and methodologies were also disclosed. So Mud-USA Koenect-ed it forward with a technical discussion to help validate the Thesis.
Endless Innovations took a different approach to Koenect it forward, they elected to offer the complete skill set within their shop to help another Koenect member. Nickel City Cycles, a small designer and fabricator of high end cycling frames and hardware needed to design and fabricate a conversion of their chain-stay jig into a fork jig (watch for upcoming video footage). This conversion would improve the manufacturability of their Fork production.
As with many of our members these are businesses driven by a passion and commitment to their craft. They are not pursuing a path to the corporate arena of investors and profit margins that could impact the quality and value they build into every project and product. To keep the passion alive, these businesses models become very efficient at managing cash flow and performing as many tasks in house as possible. But there is a point of diminishing returns where you stretch yourself so thin that progress almost comes to a standstill and frustration starts to outpace the passion and you might consider giving up. This is where the Koenect community can really shine. Many of our members have a unique skill set and they all have a passion for what they believe in. As we build this community, there will be many opportunities to work with and help other members maintain a drive by offering a skill, “On the House” to keep the Dream Alive..that is Koenect-ing it forward…it will be one of the most rewarding contributions you can offer to someone that is chasing a Passion and a Dream..just like you ..It all started with a simple cup of coffee !!!
One of the easiest things to do in an organization is to recognize employees for their contributions. It is also one of the easiest things to forget. Do not allow this to occur. Two of the key components in engagement are motivation and reinforcement. Here are a few tips to provide timely and meaningful recognition.
Employee Recognition Team
Most businesses are always looking for ways to improve the work atmosphere and create an upbeat setting. Who best to know what is required to make this happen than the employees themselves. Start an Employee Recognition Committee with selective members within the organization. This group should consist of management and labor associates. Provide the group with a budget and opportunities to meet so they can generate ideas and action plans.
Good Morning Grub
The social nature of food and the time to gather together cannot be overlooked. A great way to reward the team is to have a weekly morning coffee and bagel day. This will allow all employees to stop and take some personal time together. Who wouldn’t want the boss to buy breakfast. This small gesture of appreciation will also add to making the team more cohesive.
Thanks, I’m Good
All business have to deal with employees missing work due to personal issues or illness. How about providing deserved associates with calling in “well” days? Think about it. You certainly have workers who go the extra mile, stay late, work weekends or assist other team members. Who wouldn’t enjoy taking a day for themselves by contacting the office with “I feel terrific! I’m calling in well today.” This could spread to the less than motivated workers and get them on board too.
An easy way to determine what your employees find rewarding? Ask them. Provide a simple survey, no more than 5 questions, and get their input. Is a small gift card incentive meaningful? Are public announcements of accomplishments worth something? Tickets to sporting or theater events? Add a blank line for suggestions. Anything that will spur conversation and ideas to generate a positive vibe.
Recognition of a job well done is special in any work environment. All employees crave a nice pat on the back for their contributions. They may state “it was no big deal” but on the inside they are filled with a sense of accomplishment for being noticed. Create credit tokens. Be creative. These are another expression of thanks for going above and beyond. Order a large blue ribbon that can be displayed in a workspace. This says “You’re a winner”. Purchase a packs of gum that can be handed out. These can be shown off as one to “stick” with.
How to create a successful Portfolio Page on Koenect.com by Janine Maslowsky
I am sure by now you have seen my catchy little saying ‘They say in business it is all about who you know, the trick is knowing where to find them.’ For me it was the best way to explain where Koenect came from in the first place. Even though there are other incredible tools and features (with a long list of them coming down the pipeline) the real heart of Koenect is the connections made based on your passions. The key to making this successful for you is by spending some time and really thinking through your portfolio page. Remember, this is literally your ‘portfolio’ so you need to fill it out with some thought and sincerity. This is what everyone sees and it give a big first impression – the key is to make it a good one! It’s about putting your best foot forward and it will pay off in the long run.
The Design The portfolio page is design so you can give it the look of your business or your business to be. In the top section, you can add either an image or an icon (smaller section) as well as a large picture (header section) of you shop, your product or anything that gives other members a feel for what makes you and your product/service special. Here is a chance to sell yourself and tell who you really are. You also have another opportunity to add photos to a gallery as well as videos to help represent who you are further down the portfolio page. After you make any changes you can click on the Preview button to view your page exactly how others will see it.
The Notification Icon
This Icon lets you know when matches have been made based on your passion keywords. Click on the icon and it will take you to your list of matches with the newest match at the top of the list. This is where you can click on any match you might be interested in and you will go to their portfolio page. Here you can get a better feel for who they are and if you would like to reach out to them. If you want to Koenect with them, then just click on the Invite to Lounge button to start a discussion. It is that easy!
The Lounge Icon
This button will take you directly to the Lounge where you can start a discussion based on already started topics or you can create your own. Other members can join into the conversation but if you choose to, you are able to move a conversation out of the group and discuss one-on-one. In a group discussion, any member who has passion keywords that are mentioned in the conversation will get a notification that they may want to join in.
The About Us
The About Us section is where you can tell your story a bit. Let people feel who you really are and what it took you get to where you are today. Whether you already have a business or the story on why you are now starting a business. No matter what it is, it should be your story.
Willing To Work With
The Willing to Work With section is just a way to let other members know that this is the type of business relationship you are open to discussing. These options you are able to change at anytime and should be updated as needed.
This section is the driving force behind all matches that are made so it is very important to continually tweak these to adjust the matches that are being made for you. These can be updated continually as your business needs change.
This section is the place to tell the world what you are doing currently. As we all know in business that a company can be pushed into a direction that may not exactly be what the business was intended to be, hence, a deviation from your passion. Or maybe there is just a change in what you want the business to be. Either way, here is where you state what that current state of the business is.
Here is where you talk about the direction you are now taking the business in – the future state of your business. This is where your explanation of the direction you are wishing to go in can catch the attention of someone who shares that same passion but has a different skill that can work well with your needs. Here is where teaming up in whatever capacity you choose can be incredibly uplifting to any business, large or small.
Recent Matches shows a list of the most recent matches made based on your passion keywords. You can click on any listing to go directly to their portfolio page and see what they are all about. (You also receive an email to let you know that you received a new match.)
Companies/Members worked With
This part of the portfolio page shows which other members or companies that you have worked with. This just gives even more credibility to any member when another member chooses to list them as a successful Koenection.
This section is a place where members can tell about their experience with another member which can also add credibility for those with great ratings.
The Koenect platform is meant to be FOR the members. It is a tool we created because we ran into the same obstacles that most business at one time or another face. It is a tool we wished we had quite a few years back. It is about learning from those obstacles and working together to make it easier on each other. It is about supporting one another and sharing what we have learned along the way. That is how Koenect.com came about in the first place. The changes and additions you will see to this platform over time will reflect these principles and beliefs.