I often see posts and messages from shops seeking “experienced help”
First, let’s be honest: experience takes years to cultivate and since we haven’t had much training in the past couple decades, well . . . experience is hard to come by.
But beyond that, consider the additional challenges of finding a good employee – it’s tough for ANY business to find a great employee, even in a robustly populated career field.
Being experienced isn’t enough – that candidate has to be geographically accessible. They have to be hirable (not otherwise employed, or interested in making a change). They have to be available during the right work hours. They have to be a good personality fit for you and your staff.
A great employee probably takes awhile to find, even if you have a good pool of candidates. So what if finding even ONE is a needle in a haystack?
A great employee is more that skills – it’s a whole combination of matches. Kind of like finding oh, I don’t know . . . A spouse???
Now think about how most of us find a spouse, or even a dateable companion.
What we DON’T do is hop on social media and scream I NEED A WIFE!!!!!
(At least I hope you don’t.)
For lack of a better term, we network.
We put ourselves out socially and meet people. We engage in activities we enjoy, in hopes that we’ll meet someone compatible, or at least interesting. Maybe we let our friends know we’re on the lookout.
In many instances, we may not even BE looking. Through the act of simply meeting people, we make natural connections.
Most of those connections are brief. Forgettable.
But a few become meaningful and perhaps even permanent.
In the field of professional upholstery, we’ve almost entirely lost our appreciation for networking.
I don’t mean those stupid everyone show up with a business card trying to sell each other something affairs.
I mean hanging out in a social, professional, or educational setting with no ulterior motives, no aggressively self-interested agenda.
We may not (and will not) find the experienced employee of our wildest dreams, but we may (and will) find other valuable connections that we hadn’t known to seek.
There’s never a guaranteed payoff, so it’s easy to stick “dating” on the back burner. But if you want to maybe meet someone great? You have to date anyway.
It’s not a quick fix. It’s a long game.
So the best time to start is now.
Networking opportunities are hard to find, especially if you’re looking specifically for upholstery. Think about what related fields you can tap into. Art? Design? Thrifting? Sustainability? Don’t be put off be a non-upholstery opportunity. You may in fact discover that your upholstery skills are rare and interesting to your new group of contacts. And they’ll almost certainly have more events and resources to tap into locally.
But if you DO want to meet a bunch of upholsterers face to face in the near future, here are some events and communities worth checking out. Remember: You aren’t looking for a wife, psychopath. Your goal is to meet some nice new people. <3
- Pacific Northwest Upholstery Meetup – Shelton, WA July 24th (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info)
- Upholstery Symposium hosted by the National Upholstery Association – Concord, NC September 15th (stay for Custom Workroom Conference September 16-18)
And don’t forget – the National Upholstery Association will begin to officially accept members July 1, 2019, but you can get your name on the email list NOW. Hopefully 2020 and beyond will see more opportunities to connect with your fellow professionals!