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Friday, June 05, 2009

LMNOP: An A&D Networking Community

Back in my Wear-Dated, Ultron and Carpetology days [to think it's only been 2.5 months since those days!], I came into contact with A&D or Architecture and Design professionals. After all, Solutia [now Ascend Performance Materials] was actively engaged with that segment via the Ultron carpet fiber brand, the yearly Doc Award Competition, a permanent showroom at NeoCon and other programs. So, when I learned from a former NYC-based Ultron representative about LMNOP - Leadership, Mentoring, Networking & Opportunity for A&D Professionals and a new organization specifically for the A&D community, I was intrigued.

In A&D Professionals Form Networking Society in Interior Design magazine, you can learn more about the organization, its efforts to prevent a 'talent gap' in the architecture and design industry, and the events being offered.

The press release announcing the organization's formation is available at Contract Magazine in "Disaster Relief: Leadership, Mentoring, Networking & Opportunity for A&D Professionals (LMNOP) is Born." From that release:

"LMNOP is composed of several different factions; Jennifer Graham heads the "Leadership Group" with co-founder Stephanie Chiuminatto who is charged with setting the vision and agenda for all group events. The core unit and reason for the group's establishment is the "Opportunity Group," made up of unemployed architects and designers ranging in experience from 2 years to 20 plus years. Employed professionals are "Networkers" who can assist other members in connecting with possible employment opportunities and provide support and encouragement as well as notify members of industry events. All members can participate in the "Mentoring Group," professionals that donate their professional expertise to the group either individually or in a workshop setting.

Workshops are regularly held for Opportunity members and include topics such as "The Job Search Checklist" and "Your Personal Professional Brand." Topics are chosen based on the timeliness of the subject. Accessibility to similar workshops in professional development and leadership training may only occur in a handful of the largest architecture and design firms, and similar business workshops are not specifically tailored to the A+D community. All workshops are held as small round-table discussions at various showrooms around New York City. Because of the intimate and interactive nature of the workshops, the Opportunity Group is kept small; new members are referred in by existing members. Networking events are open to all LMNOP members and often double as fundraisers in the group's overall objective to develop into a fully-realized non-profit organization."

I really like the notion of employed networkers and unemployed opportunity group members interacting. Imagine the knowledge exchange and learning opportunities possible for both groups!

I reached out to co-founder Stephanie Chiuminatto, Associate IIDA, LEED AP. She explained to me that membership has been coming primarily through word of mouth. Leadership members are actively networking, and oftentimes people approach members at events asking how they can get involved.

She expects the LMNOP website to be up and running in the next month or so.

In the meantime, if you have questions or know of NYC architect and designers - employed or not - wanting to get involved, please contact Stephanie directly at schiuminatto [at] gmail [dot] come.

On a related note, I learned that The Mohawk Group has established Re:work program. Per FloorDaily.com "Mohawk's Re:work seminar series designed to provide unemployed designers and architects help in securing future employment. In this 10 city tour, Mohawk, the IIDA and Interior Design Magazine have teamed up to provide A&D professionals with outplacement assistance that includes portfolio evaluation, financial planning, resume writing assistance and job opportunity networking services."

You can learn more from an 8 minute interview with Al Kabus, president of The Mohawk Group, who discusses The Mohawk Group's Re:work Program with Kemp Harr from FloorDaily.

Given these terrific programs and organizations, have you considered how you might support networking in your community? Could you host events in-store? What about sharing meeting space or even offering your own expertise? I bet you will be pleasantly surprised at what develops.

I've been sharing my expertise in networking groups and am astounded at what I'm learning.

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